Walking Toward the Simple Life

I have often written about the many aspects of being an Arts and Crafts collector, but more recently I have been thinking about one of the often overlooked tenets of the Arts and Crafts philosophy: the quest for The Simple Life.

Our homes are filled with gimmicks and gadgets that are supposed to make our lives easier, just like computers were supposed to make paper obsolete. But I have felled more trees with my printer than I have with my chain saw. I sit here at my desk with a television remote control on my left, a backup external hard drive next to it, my cell phone to the right, and, of course, my laptop, the core of my universe, front and center. Simple, eh?

Often when my cell phone rings, especially when I am busy, I am reminded of a dinner at which a friend was scolding someone for not answering his cell phone earlier that day. He listened, then quietly replied, “My cell phone is for my convenience, Freda, not yours.”

I have begun identifying those little things I have discovered both give me pleasure and help me keep my life in focus, which is the first step toward enjoying The Simple Life. I’d like to share them with you, for no other reason than I have also discovered that sharing makes us feel good, too.

1. Take a walk every day.

It doesn’t have to be long, it doesn’t have to be through the Muir Woods. Just get up and walk around the block. Along the way do something that will freak your neighbors out: wave at them. Say hello and ask how they are doing. Something strange will happen. They will smile and wave back. Amazing.

Second reason: walking solves problems. I cannot count the number of ideas that have popped into my brain once I got away from my desk, my house, and all my distractions. Sometimes Leigh Ann or one of the dogs comes along, but more often I simply slip out on my own, put my brain in idle, and just walk until something occurs to me.

2. Write someone a note.

No, emails don’t count, nor do phone calls. They each have their place, but neither can replace the simple act of picking up a pen and writing someone a few lines, thanking them for something, asking how they are doing, catching them up on what’s happening in your life, or just letting them know you’re thinking about them this morning. Keep a small box of blank Arts and Crafts notecards on top of your desk, not buried in a drawer, along with your address book and some stamps.

Not only will it make you feel good, think about how good it feels to get one. That unexpected surprise when tucked amid the pile of junk mail and bills you find a real card, written to you from a real person. What an easy way to make two people happy, and keep the bond between you fresh.

As my Grandma Hickok, a true woman of letters, used to say, “If you want to get a letter, you have to send one.”

3. Read a real book.

Tom Smith, my high school English teacher, always had a book with him, most often a biography, sometimes a history. I love detective novels (Lucas Davenport is my hero) and a truly good television show (that’s a real rarity), but when I’m done I feel like I’ve eaten a gigantic desert: full of empty calories. I could just as easily have read a biography of Winston Churchill — and had something interesting to add to my next dinner conversation, like the time when Lady Astor, the first female member of the House of Commons, stood up and shouted, “Mr. Churchill, if you were my husband, I’d poison your tea!”

“And if you were my wife,” Churchill thundered back, “I would drink it!

Further proof that truth is more fun than fiction.

Until next Monday,

Take a walk, write a note, read a book!


Does you’re A-C battery need charged? Start thinking about coming to the Arts and Crafts Conference next February 21-23 at the Grove Park Inn, where the Arts and Crafts movement never ended. For info, http://www.Arts-CraftsConference.com.

Photo courtesy of http://www.seanlinnane.blogspot.com.