Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Privilege of Living Simply

Since moving to our new home I've been decluttering and trying to simplify our life and finances. Lately, in my quiet moments of reflection, I have had the reoccurring thought over and over again:  Privilege.

Photo by Easton Oliver on Unsplash

Let me back up.  I believe this thought entered my head several weeks ago while listening to a podcast by Nicole Antoinette on her thru hike on the Arizona Trial. In the podcast, she mentioned the privilege it was to choose her own suffering. She chose do this hike and to leave her life, family, and friends for 6 weeks to be alone in the desert. It was tough both mentally and physically. She could have stopped any time, but she chose to stick with it even through the cold, the cactus that shredded her skin, the hunger, and lack of water. It was a privilege for her. Most people never get to experience a thru hike, even those who desire it. 

That got me thinking about my life, priorities, and ambitions. For those regular readers of my blog, you will know how I desire to live a simple, conscience type of life. I declutter, getting rid of things I no longer use or need.  I want to live in a small house.  I strive to make the things I DO purchase come from local or small businesses, and companies with ethical principles.  I love to cook with fresh vegetables, fruit, and meat bought from local farms. I don't work outside my home and like to devote my life to my family and lifestyle.  All of this is an incredible privilege.

In my last post I mentioned how when Nakoma and Phoebe moved in with us, we were crammed into our 1250 sq ft house, and how it really was a first world problem that I was even complaining. That's privilege. As I said in that post, in many countries, multi-generational families live in much, much less. But even in our own country this is privilege. Many multi-generational families are squeezed into small homes, living paycheck to paycheck, not even able to have the option to move to something larger.

Some people in my own town live in a food desert, meaning they are not within walking distance of a store that sells fresh food and do not have the transportation available to make the longer trek to the store. They are then left with the option of the fast food joint down the street that sells 2 burgers for $2, or the convenience store on the corner where they can get a $1 slice of pizza and a bag of chips. The fact that I choose and am able to shop for local and organic food is a great privilege. (By the way, the food desert is something I want to dive into more at some point in time.  I am very new to this reality in my town and many other towns in the US and cannot speak knowledgeably about it at this time other than what I wrote above. I know there are many organizations who are trying to eliminate food deserts in cities.  Hopefully I can post again on this subject.)

Because I haven't always lived a simple life, I have things I am constantly removing from my home. I sell them, give them to charity, or throw them away.  Even in our own country, there are many people who lost everything in the hurricanes and fires last year and do not have the means to replace them. The fact that I have excess to remove is privilege.

Finally, I have the tremendous privilege to work from home. I was fortunate when my children were growing up to be able to choose to stay home.  The times that I worked outside the home was because I wanted to, not because we needed the income.  Now that my children are mostly grown I still work from home.  I am able to help Nakoma with childcare for Phoebe, cook fresh meals, keep my home clean, and spend only the hours I want to working on my eBay business or blog. Many people desire to do this, but are financially not able to do so. 

Now don't get me wrong, I certainly don't want to sound like I am writing a blog post about how I'm privileged in a I'm better than them way. That isn't my point at all! So does that mean I should stop talking about these things?  I don't think so. I think that it's fine to live in this way; to strive to be good with money, thoughtful in purchases, and not living in excess. Not only is it a good lifestyle practice, it's more sustainable for the planet. I think it should be a way of life in which I write to encourage others. But only, while knowing how incredibly privileged I am to be on this path. 

Finally, to take it one step further, how can we impact those people in our own cities and towns who do not have the opportunities we do?  How can we balance excess and need? I look forward to diving into this more in depth in the future. Until then, what are your thoughts on this, friends? Like me, do you have incredible privileges that you take for granted?

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