Recently Rebecca has become enamored with the idea of becoming a journalist. She is all about it! Pencil behind her ear, asking questions and taking notes, always looking for a scoop. And for Christmas do you know what she wanted the most? A real old-fashioned typewriter! Yep... we could not convince her that her computer could do more stuff and better, than an old typewriter. She had decided that in order to BE a journalist, she had to be able to smell the ink and feel the letters as they streamed from her mind onto the paper. Funny! But the more I thought about it, I realized that it was her need to get back to the basics.
Getting back to the basics can connect us with "stuff" and "process" in ways that we never knew possible. Think about it. Grow your own tomato and eating it becomes a spiritual experience that is unlike the experience of eating a tomato that grew in a field some 1500 miles from your plate, grown by a generic "taste doesn't matter" method! The experience extends beyond just the eating. It becomes about the sunlight and the earth in your yard. It is about the nutrition and the color and the vine ripening and your very own self-reliance. It is life itself and you grew it. You KNOW it. And that my friends is just the beginning of connecting to the process. When we connect to one life process, we awaken to other life processes that we never before thought about and the whole world begins to unfold in layers and layers of goodness. The depth of these layers is awesome. Welcome to the beauty of the basics.
Frequently, we are drawn to a "back to the basics' way of thinking when our personal economics are stretched to the limit. Back to the basics can be thought of as FRUGALITY. The word, Frugal, has so many negative connotations, but I invite you to think of it as being smart and resourceful. The dictionary defines FRUGAL as "sparing or economical, as in the expenditure of money or the use of material resources." Frugality is really a return to the basics:
- Considering the true cost of "stuff" and "convenience".
- Do I really need this?
- What happens to it after I am done with it?
- Can I re-purpose it, recycle it?
- How much waste is involved? Zero waste?
This way of living should not just be something to "fall back on" in hard times, but rather a lifelong philosophy of awareness and connection. For me the gist of "Getting Back to the Basics" is to materially participate in as much of my life as possible. Every year when I fill out my business taxes the IRS asks "Did you materially participate in this business?" For the IRS that means that an individual materially participates in business activities if he or she participates on a "regular, continuous and substantial basis." Think about it in terms of your life. Think about how you participate in a regular, continuous and substantial basis in your own life. For my LIFE that includes:
- growing as much of our food as possible
- preparing meals from scratch
- buying local food
- practicing Jin Shin Jyutsu as self-help to heal and keep my body in balance
- participating in do-it-yourself entertainment (Contra and Square dancing, playing music, hiking, gardening)
- making and repairing clothes
- shopping in thrift stores, yard sales, etc
- using Freecycle to get "stuff"and to pass "stuff" on to others
- knowing where "stuff" is made
- considering the impact of a purchase
- borrowing books and movies from the library
- making responsible choices for the environment
- living light
Another favorite book of mine is Extreme Simplicity, by Christopher and Dolores Lynn Nyerges. In this book they offer some suggestions to improve your financial situation... they understand about getting back to the basics, frugality, and self-reliance!
MAGIC WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR FINANCIAL SITUATIONSo how do you begin to connect to the basics, to find your own simplicity? Perhaps begin by making a list of your daily or weekly activities. Then with awareness, figure out how you can start to materially participate in as many of those activities as possible. Take one step at a time and you'll be surprised. Get clear about what is really important to you. Access how you want to spend your time and your money. The gift you get when you participate materially in your life, is the gift of connection and awareness. It is the gift of security, a philosophy for life and your own personal path to freedom. Enjoy the journey.
Once, during a period of homelessness before we were married, Christopher was engulfed in thoughts of "poor me" and "I'm destitute," and he could scarcely see a way out of the darkness. Dolores provided him with a simple set of practical tools that anyone can use if only they choose to do so. Here are four "magic" ways to improve your financial situation:
1. Never waste anything.
2. Continually improve your personal honesty.
3. Leave every situation or circumstance better than you found it.
4. Tithe to the church (or organization) of your choice.
We know that these are genuine practical solutions. We have heard people say that they cannot make these efforts - such as tithing, or improving the environment - because "we are poor." Our perspective is that they have their reasoning backwards. They are poor because they do not engage themselves in the world in these ways. Logical thinking leads to erroneous conclusions when the premise is false.