Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Simpler, Freer Life - Lauren's Article

This article, written by Samuel Alexander, is an insight on Thoreau's philosophy on the average human life in our country and how we have created complexity and stress through striving for luxury when a simpler life may indeed be freer. No man is poor if they believe they have anything they might ever want or need, or they are content with what they have. As soon as you start wanting more, you're suddenly poor until your desires are fulfilled. That, and there's the fact that we spend so many of our daylight hours working in a week that we're hardly left free to our own devices, constantly struggling to 'make a living'.  

I've been aware of many of these ideas, and I often try to go for the lifestyle of being pleased with what I have. It's not easy though when you're downright miserable with what you got. I'm not talking about material possessions however. I'm talking about circumstances. I, for instance, do not want to live with my parents when I'm done with school. If it means living in a cheap, roach-infested place, I'll buy enough Raid to poison Beetlejuice and deal with it. I don't need to have luxury, but at the same time, I need to have a suitable degree of comfort to be satisfied. To live on my own is to be free of stress. My family often struggles with debt and I don't enjoy sharing their stress. I find my own to be exhausting enough. I don't readily consider myself to be free however. Living on my own means paying expenses. For the apartment, for the car, and for myself--I'll see no end to it for as long as I live. But I don't need to have a car forever. I don't need to pay rent forever {not if I end up owning the place, I'll simply have utilities}. I'm going to keep working until I can reach a plateau of reasonable comfort. And to me, there's freedom to that. Some people can't even work for money if they need to. I can. I have the freedom to decide to give it all up too, but at the expense of my comfort and sanity if I stay with mom or dad until I'm forty or so. I'm not willing to do that, nor will I ever be.

So I won't say that I'm a slave to the economy. I'm more of an indentured servant. I'm agreeing to be the economy's bitch for the first twenty to thirty years after graduation so I can spend the older half of my life with little to worry about. And it DOES seem like a waste, pushing my prime with labor and leaving the freedom to an older, frailer me. And there's no guarantee that when I'm forty or fifty I'll be healthy. I might even have cancer like practically everyone else does in the previous generation. But to have a simpler life now, right now when I'm in my twenties and graduating from college with some hefty debt...I just don't see it. I'd love to work maybe twenty hours a week and be able to live in a quiet and cozy little place without worrying about a thing, but it's just not going to happen. I'm still indebted. 

I tried downloading the questions, or at least I think they were, from Lauren, but the file was unreadable on my computer. The converter wasn't even working on it and I've never seen a filetype like it before so I had no idea what to make of it. But if it helps, I guess I can pose a question or two for myself to answer.

Is the technological prowess our society is making a part of the problem when it comes to our freedom? I believe so. Every time there's a new discovery, or a new product, people are encouraged to work for it. That also goes with new mannerisms and new standards that people feel the need to oblige to. For instance, and I take this example from experience, texting. Once phones were provided with the option for texting, more people began to go with it. At first, it was annoying to be the receiver when you're not used to it. Every one is texting you all of a sudden and the rate increases when new phones with bigger keypads are released. Then you're pressured to get a phone that can handle texting just as well. That, or you decide to call up the person in a fit of stubborn rage only to find out their phones are silenced because they're at a meeting. Why are you texting during your meetings then? To make the non-texting folk feel just a little foolish and completely incompetent. Chances are, you're not. You have no idea that you're putting this pressure on others, but it's there. And maybe this isn't the best example because I didn't go out and upgrade my phone, but I have become more adept at texting with a 1 through 0 keypad. On a larger scale however, these sorts of things happen. Hybrid cars to conquer the issue of rising gas prices and handheld devices with internet reception are starting to becoming nearly necessary--so eventually people will feel the need to make the jump. If not they're left behind in a life too simple. One I'm fine with, but not just everyone. Who likes to be left out of the loop?

Also, what does this have to do with my art? I'm not sure, to be honest. Really, I'm not. I make work whether or not I have the money to do so, whether I'm buying materials to build something or drawing on some napkins and placemats at the local IHOP. I don't need to be rich with cash to do what I do. Where there are means, I find a way. I never set out for great inconvenience though, but I usually get things done. 

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