The Many Paths to Simplicity

September 2008

I’ve read about someone living in a log cabin in Alaska, with no electricity or running water or television or Internet. They chop wood from the forest outside to burn for heat and cooking. They use water from a nearby stream for drinking and bathing. They walk or bike to town to go to the library or to use the Internet. That’s a pretty simple life by most definitions — but when I talk about leading a simple life, I don’t mean you need to live in a log cabin in the woods — I certainly don’t.

I’ve also seen photos of pretty expensive houses, decorated in a very minimalist fashion, spartan in their simplicity, but also decorated with expensive furniture. These houses are gorgeous, and their minimalist interiors are extremely attractive … but it takes a lot of money to get to that point. This is one kind of simplicity, but it’s not for everyone.

I’ve also read about people who live extremely frugally, rarely buying new items, making things last as long as possible, re-using plastic bags and bottles, growing food in a garden, buying things second-hand in thrift shops when necessary. This kind of frugality is one kind of simplicity, and to some extent I use many of these ideas myself. But it’s not the kind of simplicity for everyone.

The Many Paths to Simplicity