Second Sunday of July every year is celebrated as Simplicity Day in The USA. It is to celebrate and honour the philosophy of Henry David Thoreau. A famous author, philosopher and historian Thoreau’s landmark book ‘Walden, or life in the woods’ is a must-read for all who think of living with simplicity.
Considered as Thoreau’s masterwork, Walden is a philosophical treatise on labour, leisure, self-reliance, and individualism. It is also an influential piece of nature writing. Thoreau lived in the jungle, near the Walden pond for two years and two months, in semi-isolation, and wrote a series of 18 essays.
The first question that arises is how much does an individual need in a lifetime? Through his practice and calculations, Thoreau explained we are putting lot more energy in things that we do not need essentially. Life is better lived without them if simplicity is accepted. Simplicity, more or less means, having limited external means for life and
I remember watching only one movie a week on television, as a child, when only one TV channels existed in India. Limited TV programs were simple to follow and wait every week for. I used to look forward to watching them. Now, with an abundance of channels and programmes, the situation is that I watch TV hardly once a month or so. When when I switch on, it is not easy to decide what I would like to spend my time on.
Similarly, when only the family tour that we used to take was during a vacation, it was much revered. Now, travelling and touring has become so common that sometimes it becomes tiresome. Scarcity of choices used to add flavour to the destination. Now, after going around many countries and places, even highly recommended places hardly create any feeling of wonder.
There were days when simple food and a piece of sweet was mouth-watering. And then came the time of multi-course meals which hardly create an appetite anymore. Not that the food has lost taste, but it has limited utility and so limited appeal to taste buds. The more on offer, the lesser it attracts.
There are plenty of examples where the loss of simplicity has reduced the importance of particular thing from our lives. Simple living has the benefit of keeping our senses and body active and sensitive. By thrusting more than need, we have killed those desires and requirements. Better to be moderate, if not minimal, in what we offer to our body and mind. Need-based consumption is a useful way of maintaining a fine balance between simplicity and efficacy. While we cannot afford to live in deprivation, unnecessary affluence is also not a welcome way of life, especially when it affects our body and mind adversely.
Therefore, to gain satisfaction from small things in our life, it is important to live with simplicity.