Intentional living is like the ascetic life, like an onion, like the inner life of a tree. The more you touch it, the more layers are revealed to you. Living simply is a slow gestating, and while each person’s way of simplicity is unique, there are shared aspects.
You can build a simple, intentional life with running water and electricity. You can build one without homeschooling (though I think most of the time homeschooling can help build and sustain a ‘domestic monastery’), but these 5 recommendations are essential to rediscovering simplicity and building it into your home life:
Blow up your tv.
Or, you know, just donate it. Television is really unessential. It’s distracting and deadening. It’s also kinda passé. You no longer ‘need’ tv to keep up on the news (and honestly, unless you absolutely need to be up to date on all the sorrows in the world, I’d recommend reducing your news-consumption as well); tv is merely an escape – often voyeuristic or dehumanizing. Whether the shows are appalling or merely banal, they contribute nothing to the good and distract us from engaging in our true lives.
And keeping a tv keeps us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually bound to the noise and materialism around us. We’re still on that schedule – (season___ of whatever show starts tonight!). Simplicity is being choked out by distraction.
Greet the Day
As Catholics, we welcome the new day with a Morning Offering and entrust ourselves to the care of our guardian angels. However you meet the morning, make it a simple ritual of beauty and focus. Don’t let the days pass one after another without a pause of quiet gratitude at the birth of each new morning.
Starting the day intentionally – connected to the tangible world the fills our own daily life, instead of checking a phone or stumbling bleary-eyed through the morning hours is such an act of hope! It says: this day is new and real and fresh and I will be whole and mindful as I move through it!
Real books. The kind with pages. The kind that aren’t full of angsty teenage protagonists.
Read good books.
Read novels. Read myths. Read philosophy. Read poetry.
If a book has been made into a tv show with sexy, pouting characters running around in front of the green screen, skip it, at least for a while.
Read books with attention and understanding. Journal about the books you’re reading.
Become Acquainted with The Night
It’s easy in the country. We have so many stars! We see the moon rising behind the trees, and watch it sink low again late in the night. We meet the constellations and know their seasons. In the city, nights are lonelier. There is more darkness, more false light, more to fear in the shadows. Where ever you spend your nights, get to know them. Don’t spend all your time with false light and indoor air. Step out onto a patio, a deck, a park, a driveway and feel the dark, soft night-time air. Search for bright Venus in the sky and get to know the phases of the moon.
Night is such a restful, reviving time – full of dreams and magic. You don’t need to sleep to be soothed by the night time. You can let your mind slow down in the cool, dark, with tea and poetry, or alone under the stars.
Remember your death. Living Simply reminds us each day the our own lives are neither isolated nor unending. Let your life be a thing of beauty, a work of art, and let the details – all the little things – really matter.