Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Simplicity and The Art of Manliness

The other night I bought my brother a book for Christmas. It details several virtues of "manliness." I'm not going to try to fool anyone in saying that I actually don't want to read the book myself, hence buying it before the plane ride home to Illinois (Is that trashy?!).

Anyway, last night I was skimming though the "Self-reliance" chapter of said book and I came across a small reading that I have been in search of for months. It is part of Chapter Two of Thoreau's Walden, often referred to as "Simplify, simplify." If you have never read it, I strongly recommend it. It is a mere two paragraph article that has affected me since early college, when I read Walden for leisure for the first time.

Here is a good link to this little reading. Start at line/paragraph 16, and continue to around 18 to find what I am talking about.

HDT talks about why he went to the woods to live in that tiny cabin in the middle of nowhere:
I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. 
In my month of so of being a housecat, I have very, very slowly come to realize a few things that I have been going without for months, even years. During last week's rain spell, I realized that my feet had not been dry in wet weather for at least two years. My shoes all have holes in which I can put a finger through. So I have a new, quality pair of boots coming in the mail today. My seven year old glasses broke in the late spring this year. I have gone without them until today, when I went to the optometrist. My new glasses are scheduled to arrive in a couple weeks. I have also worn the past nine shirts for about the past six months. This week I allowed myself to purchase a few new pieces of clothing (hip ones, even!) to replace those I had worn thin.

These things I went without had never bothered me in the least. For the past several months I was so worried about how to stay warm and/or happy that wet feet, blurry vision and a ripped shirt in my wardrobe didn't even cross my mind! The past month I have been trying to house train myself, trying to figure out how to best make use of this time under a ceiling. It's taken me this long to adjust to comfort, to trust comfort. I still resist it.

But am I disappointing myself, my friends and readers by having these things, these articles and items of comfort that are not needed for mere survival? Internally I am battling over the question; Am I still living as a minimalist, a nomad? Or am I a big, stupid fake?
Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail.
 My thumb nail is still stark, barren and clean. For now I will rest, plan, and set myself up for success. I mean, Thoreau at least had a roof.


  1. What other people think of you is really none of your business. Haters are gonna hate.

    And, whatever? You're allowed to change your mind. It's your life. Do what is right for you.

  2. Hi. i'm so very grateful to you for being on this adventure! you ARE living my "shoulda-coulda-woulda but-didna" life. I’ve not been capable of more than thought and talk about it. it IS ok to step back and regroup. Shannon’s comment is right on! By the way, there are people in intentional communities living as you strive to. maybe a temporary jaunt with other like minded souls would benefit you? Check out john/mcusa77 (MCUSA = MOBILE COMMUNITIES USA)
    I just found your blog and it brightened my day. Folly is beautiful. I too have an appaloosa, also a walkaloosa: Nugget and Sadie. You WILL be just fine as long as you live your life true to your own self. Well bye now. Go 4th in love with GAIA, barb

  3. Barb,
    I LOVE THAT! However, I am afraid that they are huge hippies and those people scare me!

    Appaloosas are pretty funny little horses, huh? I never intended to have one, but somehow fell in love with her. Couldn't help it! My next equine purchase will be a Spanish Colonial Horse (the original Spanish Mustangs). I found out about them after looking into Native American ponies (curious of Folly's heritage). Neat breed!
    Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to hearing more from you!


    1. sorry 4 taking so long 2 get back. i got lost in cyber-space so-2-speak. been tweeting a lot @gaiagurl59 on twitter. i recently got a blogspot page,, but have done nothing with it but look at it in confused perplexion! has all kind of lifestyles 2 investigate, hippy/nudists to strict religious zealots and every type between. the directory has detailed descriptions of their lifestyles. the one i mentioned is a family who live in a horsevan, as in horse-drawn-van, and have 5 kids. hat-tip from me they do get! they, really he, have some interesting youtube and blogspot stuff too.

      well i did have a bunch-a-stuff-more typed to you (about my hope-2-summer-plans) but suddenly the page reloaded and the cyber-spooks ate it. Message from “the force” to shut-up i guess. anyhow, thanks for replying-2-my-reply!

      do you have a way of notifying your followers of updates? i really don’t know much about how all this blogspot stuff works - except that i should type else ways-a-wheres and then copy & paste.

      i’ll be checking back with ya now and then - beins that i’ve found you again that is! did you even know you’ve been lost? Lost-but-now-found in my computer’s cyber-demention.

      Stay happy, joyous & free and go forth in love with Gaia, barb

  4. don't forget that your own definition of simplicity is just as valid as anyone elses - thanks for your inspiring blog


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