Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough. Charles Dudley Warner
When we talk about simplicity the names that come to the forefront include Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa and our former Prime Minister Lal Bahadhur Shastriji, George Washington Carver and Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank fame. The common thread that binds these simple people is their nonchalant attitude towards clothing, appearance and appreciation. On the contrary, they were focused on far more nobler deeds and targets that would have looked foolhardy and utopian to the average person but in their simplicity and innocence they never saw themselves as attempting something improbable nor did they doubt their capacity to achieve their goals. The power of simplicity lies in the reality that no one needs to complicate thought, words or deeds.
Simplicity has a charm that is unique in as much as it does not put pressure on anyone to conform, act artificial or stick to a prepared script. In effect this allows the person to be free of any social, psychological or personal pressure. In fact being simple allows a person the freedom to set self imposed boundaries, norms and regulations which are often harsher and more challenging that what an average person can endure or put up with. The average person is often compelled to dress up to suit the societal norm, behave in a more artificial and stilted manner as determined by local custom and etiquettes and interact within the strict confines of social grace which often stifles one’s own individuality and personality.
A person’s simplicity is his enduring identity for in a world that is competing for eyeballs and attention, the jarring note of simplicity stands out. The catch though is that when we are non conformists, acceptance takes a very long time and can test anyone patience and sanity. Well meaning and intimate friends and associates in particular would pressurize one to give up some of the radical ideas and instead toe the line as determined by the environment. E.g. attend a formal banquet in a suit and tie or struggle with a fork and spoon whilst at a formal dinner even if the food is Indian and the dishes most suited to be eaten by hand. Anyone who dares to deviate from these social norms is often viewed disdainfully and could also face the wrath of social isolation. However if they have the resolve to steadfastly hold on to their personal convictions, their fortitude, honestly and transparency will endear them to the world at large and they will find both acceptance and hearty support.
Frugality in living, steadfast personal conviction and a lofty thinking are the hallmarks of simplicity. There is no flamboyance, no power play, no one-upmanship or vulgar display of wealth, all of which are associated with the cravings and desires of the average person. The ability to be humble, open, determined and focused characterizes the spirit, the work and the success of the simple people who are the change agents in society. For every well known Gandhiji, Mother Theresa and Shastriji there are a thousand others who in their own quite, focused and simple way remain true to their ideals and remain unsung heroes of simplicity. The dabbawallas of Mumbai and the women’s self help groups are prime examples of the power of simplicity.
Remember: We don’t need to increase our goods nearly as much as we need to scale down our wants. Not wanting something is as good as possessing it. ~Donald Horban
- Try and go to the simplest restaurant and or wayside shack and make an effort to sit there and eat the local fare. Be aware of your emotions. Did you feel overdressed for the setting? Did you feel uncomfortable when the local people looked you up and down? Were you apprehensive of the quality of the food?
- For the next one year, resist all temptation to send e-cards or readymade cards. Instead, either prepare your own greeting cards or write a letter by hand and snail mail it to the intended recipient. Did you find the task laborious and not worth it? Did you feel nice about the effort you took? Do you feel hurt that the recipient has not acknowledged your efforts?
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