What Simplicity Isn't

“I'd rather live in a cave with a view of a palace than live in a palace with a view of a cave.”
-Karl Pilkington, British comedian and author

Before we begin excavating what simplicity is all about, it might be helpful for us to begin by looking at what simplicity probably isn’t. Please note that this is what I currently think and like the fine print on an overpriced menu, everything is subject to change without prior notice.

It isn’t about living in a cave. Unless, of course, you're the caped crusader. Don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest that you sell all your stuff, end up in a cave, and eat crackers all day. I don’t believe simplicity is akin to choosing to embark on a bare-minimum lifestyle. I happen to drive a simple car. I’m currently listening to music on an iPod while writing this post. I’m typing away on a decent laptop. Simplicity will definitely mean a reduction in material possessions but it doesn’t mean getting rid of them completely.

It isn’t about being miserable. It has long been noted that human beings are creatures of comfort. But comfort is tricky because you’ll have to constantly evaluate times when you go overboard with it. I do think that having some degree of comfort is perfectly fine. You don’t want to be miserable. Let’s take my car as an example. Not only does my car get me from point A to point B efficiently and safely, it does come with air-conditioning for those really hot summer days, a heater for those brutally cold winter nights, and an air freshener in the shape of a Christmas tree for those really smelly weekends. However, I’ve decided to draw the line there. I don’t need leather seats. I don’t need a sun roof. I don’t need the word Ferrari printed in the back. I can write it myself, thank you very much. Having some degree of comfort is fine but simplicity entails drawing the line at a certain point.

It isn’t about penny-pinching. I don’t think we should be obsessed about saving every single penny. If you’re doing it to give as much as you can to others, that’s great. I’m all for it. Scripture does tell us, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35, ESV). But I don’t think you should be guilty if you decided to buy a bag of Doritos to satisfy a craving. On the other hand, you might want to reconsider buying a hundred bags of Doritos to stock up at home. It’s the same for eating out. You’ll probably save a lot of money by just eating at home. But I don’t think there’s anything specifically wrong with eating out. Of course, it’s another story if you’re at a fancy place every single night. Simplicity will certainly entail a reduction in spending but I don’t think it necessarily means obsessing over every single penny. However, we should be constantly evaluating and re-evaluating our spending choices to see if they are wise or not.

So here’s what I got so far. Since these are just the things at the top of my head, I’m sure I missed something. Feel free to point it out in the comments section and make me go, “I wish I thought of that.”