"Do the best you can in the place where you are and be kind."
Scott Nearing’s words have resonated with me since I first read them (written across the front of a card from my beautiful friend Beth). They suggest a pathway to a level of inner peace and simplicity that I think few people really reach. And of course there are reasons for that. Any person who has given this thing called life a try knows the obstacles to contentment: dysfunctional relationships, self-doubt, debt, disease, envy, the seeming impossibility of conjuring (nevermind sustaining) empathy with people whose lives look nothing like your own. Feeling lost.
What I like about Nearing’s words is that they seem to meet us where we are. They don’t even hint at some level of perfection that we should be looking to attain. And they acknowledge that we’re in this alone and together.
Some background on Scott Nearing and his wife, Helen:
Throughout their lives, Helen & Scott Nearing were a living example of [better, simpler choices]. Their experience, memorialized in Living the Good Life and a string of other books, has been an inspiration to thousands of people looking for an alternative to modern industrialism. On their homesteads first in Vermont and later Penobscott Bay, Maine, the Nearings built, made, grew and collected nearly everything they needed. Yet they still found plenty of time for nourishing their inner lives and giving to others – through music, education, writing and speaking.
I’ve been inspired by these two and drawn to the homesteading lifestyle for some time now. I find a richness and a depth to my life when I manage to lead it in a way that is as simple as I can make it. Sure, I’ve felt self-conscious when catching up with old friends has meant telling stories about weeding carrots and braiding garlic. And I’m no purist – I can acknowledge the amazing opportunities that can come about when you voluntarily complicate your own life (ie 3 months in India). But I whole-heartedly believe that if we focused more on the kernels and less on the husks in our worlds, the simple life has a lot to offer.
So maybe that’s where I’ll take this blog. A meditation on simplicity. The irony of using the internet to talk about the simple life is not lost on me, but I never said this would be contradiction-free! In fact, the contradictions are what make it real, interesting, human. Or so I hope.
love and light,