“And after that you buy ‘em clothes—not fluffy clothes, but ‘simple’ clothes, the kind which always cost the most. And you then you build a simple home, in a simple place like Morristown. The whole idea is simplicity, if you can’t make enough to buy it, you’re lost.” (His Family, Ernest Holmes)
Today, there is a lovely glow about that word: simplicity. We visit old-fashioned farms and buy their apple butter. We meander through Farmer’s markets and ponder cloth diapers. Natural childbirth is best and breastmilk is a must. Simplify. Streamline. Get in touch with the earth and true humanity.
The glitch is this: That which boasts simplicity comes with its own costs. I’ve often dreamt of a Little House life—complete with acreage, chickens, and long hair blowing in the wind. But, Laura and Mary could walk to school by themselves through the prairies. And Baby Carrie didn’t get ballet lessons. And after their chores, they were free to run in the prairie grass until Ma called them home. If we lived on acreage today, it could mean hours a week in a van together, to school and back, to church and back, to playdates and back. . . . and so on. The ideal of simplicity is a flawed one if approached too purely (which I have a tendency to do). In actuality, I’ve thought, the city life is the simplest of all. You can actually walk everywhere you need to go, avoiding the car seat wrestling match and burden of a car at all. You can get to the park, the library, the school, etc. quickly and easily—preserving time for family. The market is close by, as are any friends. You can build a simple little microcosm. But in sprawling isolation, you must make the choice to be at peace with either constant shuttling or true, unadorned simplicity of few errands and little outside enhancements. I think we beat ourselves up with simplicity.
My best case in point? Breastfeeding. I am no milkmaid. I don’t make milk and am anatomically challenged when it comes to feeding babes. Even the lactation specialist said so. My children would be in serious peril had I lived in a sod house. Still, I try. I know it is best. I’ve tried every time. It is ideal. It is simple. It is handy and natural and wonderful. And it is hard. I pumped, I took herbs, and I cried apologies to my little girl as I gave her a bottle. If breastfeeding alone were the only requirement to raising a happy healthy child, then I’d be screwed. But, it isn’t that simple, is it? Each and every mama does their best for their babies, be it breast, bottle, cloth, disposable, organic, or Wal-mart. Simplicity is holding a baby and loving with all the heart you have. That is simple.
My jury is still out on how to truly create simplicity in my life. It seems that if simplicity means stretching the budget too thin to get the simple ideal, then perhaps that isn’t as simple after all. I think true simplicity must be defined individually. If we aim for the simple life that leaves us happy, fulfilled, peaceful, and productive—then I think we can get there, especially if we don’t pay attention to the way “everyone” else is doing it. Buy the frozen dinner. Use the formula. Plant the garden. Get the cheap produce. Do what feels right. Perhaps it is just that simple.
Any Other Thoughts?