September 15, 2014
In this thought provoking podcast interview between Tim Ferriss and Kevin Kelly, the talk turns to this idea of living in simplicity – the stoic notion of voluntary poverty, or the 60’s idea of voluntary simplicity.
The idea is to figure out the bare minimum you need to live, and to live like that for a while so you really know how little you need to live, to thrive. This frees you from taking the chase of stuff (material, mental, gold stars, approval….) seriously, because you know from experience that you are chasing it for fun, not because of need. It also frees you from worries about the future since you know what you need to survive, and it isn’t much.
I think this is a skill which a lot of immigrants are forced to learn – especially when the immigration is forced, not luxurious. In my own case, coming to the US with 2 suitcases, one semester of tuition paid, $500 and no more money till I find a job forced me to double down and focus on what needed to be done, to study, to find a job. And live simply, cheaply. It was hard, yes, but was also a lot of fun. I realized how generous people really are, what good friends are for, and how to live.
And I think this is the joy of the student years – money-poor, but time-rich. You have so little money, you make do with that, but still have a blast. Most people I know count their college days as the best time they’ve had in their lives.
But why should it be? Why not in our thirties or forties or beyond? Yes, even with family, jobs etc? Maybe this kind of practice might lead to that kind of profound unfettered joy we experienced in our college days. Maybe even more so because now our lives are so rich with so much love and responsibility adds just a tinge of spiciness?
Maybe that is what this new ‘Minimalism’, ‘Simple Living’ movement is all about. Maybe that’s what all the monks talk about, and maybe, just maybe we should try it again, voluntarily, starting today?
Podcast Link: https://fourhourworkweek.com/2014/08/29/kevin-kelly/
Kevin Kelly: “think one of the many life skills that you want to actually learn at a fairly young age is the skill of being, like, ultra-thrifty, minimal, kind of this little wisp that’s traveling through time … in the sense of learning how little you actually need to live, not just in a survival mode, but in a contented mode. “
“That gives you the confidence to take a risk, because you say, “What’s the worst that can happen? Well, the worst that can happen is that I’d have a backpack and a sleeping bag, and I’d be eating oatmeal. And I’d be fine.” I think if you do that once or twice … you don’t necessarily have to live like that, but knowing that you can be content is tremendously empowering.”
Tim Ferriss: “practice of poverty. Not because you want to be poor, but so that you recognize not only that you can subsist, but then you can potentially be content or even, in some cases, be more content with a bare minimum. “
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