I blame it on Laura Ingles Wilder. As a kid, and again as a young adult, I poured over her books about Prairie life based in subsistence living. Something deep inside of me longed to have that kind of existence, where one's belongings could be carted up in a quest for a new life.
At that age, I didn't understand the political implications of invading the land of others. My ignorance allowed for childish romanticism. I loved the idea of baking daily bread, visiting over sponge cake, and gingham dresses. Those notions were soon forgotten as I became part of the working world where I made a salary that provided me with the trappings of modern life: clothing, things, car loans and travel.
But now, almost ironically, here I am, living on the prairies of Saskatchewan, once again imagining a simpler life. It started with some purging. I had way too much stuff in my closet. So once a month, I filled a bag to take to Goodwill. This went on for months until I managed to get my essential wardrobe small enough to fit into one check bag and a carry-on. I still have too much, but I allowed myself an extra allowance for Burning Man clothes.
Then, as I realized my life would be changing, I accepted that I might have to give up the homeowner lifestyle. It forced me to consider what bare essentials I would need if that were the case. As I thought about this I concluded that I can do without a lot and still be reasonably happy. Even without having to fully implement my musings about such a life, the excersize led me to yet another avenue of thought.
Up until this point I only thought of a simpler life in terms of possessions, but having less possessions wouldn't necessarily take the clutter out of my life. To really enjoy a simpler life, I would need to take out unnecessary pressure and stress that usually comes with a well paid job. I think of it as modified subsistence living.
I'll admit, that giving up the quest for a success is hard, especially for someone like me. I am driven with ambition to do more and always achieve. But, I managed to turn that notion on it's head, making my simpler life the new goal.
I can't say that I'm all in with this plan yet. There are still times when I want things I can do without. But I don't miss the pursuit of things or success. I don't need them the way I use to. In fact, my bare essentials list is changing. I can get by with so much less as long as I have love and respect from friends and those I care about most.