Roses Tuesday May 4, 2010, 0 comments

As I mentioned recently, Sarah and I used to live on a boat. We would get up every morning after an amazing sleep (all that fresh air) and sit in the cockpit while the sun rose. We’d sip our tea. It was calm and quiet. We’d eat breakfast to the calls of cormorants and enjoy a moment of sunshine and peace before starting our days. In the evenings, after work, I’d come home and we’d cook dinner while out ghosting on the lake. We’d come back in when the sun went down.

For sure there were downsides. We had a 200 foot walk to the toilets and showers, because we didn’t use the head on our boat and it didn’t have a shower anyway. We didn’t have a lot of room for stuff. It got incredibly hot in the summer sometimes, and Sarah (working from home) had to seek refuge in air conditioned coffee shops and the supermarket frozen food section.

A few years later and we live in a nice three-bedroom house in the city that we own. We have lots of stuff (too much stuff!) in our house. We have a nice garden and an amazing kitchen and a wonderful life, but we both remember that summer of living on the boat with extreme fondness. Neither of us really remember the downsides, only the good parts. The peace. The quiet. The simplicity of our lives.

I think that sort of peace is much harder to achieve when one’s lifestyle is ‘normal’. Maybe all the material possessions throw out some sort of dampening field that blocks clarity of mind.

Lately I’ve been feeling a lot of internal pressure to own more ‘stuff’, a feeling that it will somehow make me happier. It is an incredibly insidious feeling. I want things, except I don’t really think I do want them, I just believe I do. I might be a reaction to job stress, life stress, the general stresses of home ownership or the general stresses of living. It is not helped by the fact that I cannot avoid the news and media as much as I’d like to, since I actually work for one of Canada’s largest media companies.

But I remember that one summer on the boat, that one summer of simplicity, and I think that maybe I need a bit more of that in my life. I want to cycle to and from work in a leisurely manner, not worry about how short I can make my commute. I want to enjoy some of the sunshine and the amazing Toronto summer. Time to simplify, perhaps. I have some ideas.

I don’t much care for stopping to smell the roses, but I want to have the time to if I so choose.


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A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. The inverse proposition also appears to be true: A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be made to work.”
- John Gall


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