Fresh Living

tangerine.jpgThe New York Times has started a new blog called Happy Days, with the tagline: “The Pursuit of What Matters in Troubled Times.” A recent post by author Pico Iyer called “The Joy of Less,” tells of the writer’s shift to a life of simplicity in “nowhere Japan” where he must travel an hour to print anything, doesn’t have a cell phone or high-speed Internet, and doesn’t get a newspaper. Though he is not a rich man, he is much happier than when he was living the fast life in New York City:

“I have time to read the new John le Carre, while nibbling at sweet tangerines in the sun. When a Sigur Ros album comes out, it fills my days and nights, resplendent. And then it seems that happiness, like peace or passion, comes most freely when it isn’t pursued…. If you’re the kind of person who prefers freedom to security, who feels more comfortable in a small room than a large one and who finds that happiness comes from matching your wants to your needs, then running to stand still isn’t where your joy lies.”

If you’re anything like me, this is hard to wrap your brain around. Time? Freedom? Tangerines? He says this life obviously isn’t for everyone and that how we think about our circumstances matters much more than the actuality of them. And certainly a life of newly enforced austerity isn’t quite the same as choosing to run away to the circus (or rural Japan). 

It’s certainly a romantic notion that sounds delightly fulfilling, if bit of an acquired taste. But then, I wonder, would I be able to enjoy the tangerines, or would I be fretting about my next move? Can we enjoy the “less” in our lives? Can we find a way to want what we have instead of trying to have what we want? 

If you’re scaling back like most of us, by choice or force, are you enjoying it? Are these times of less apparent abundance enriching you in surprising ways?

Check out Pico Iyer’s article here

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