Friday, July 06, 2007

Trying to buy simplicity

I was quite pleased to find magazines other than Car & Driver in the waiting room of the "oil change place" on Thursday. There was a nice choice, including Real Simple magazine, which appeared to have some interesting articles. I actually like many of the articles I've read in Real Simple. I find it quite often on the free shelves at the library.

What I don't like is the concept of simplicity that is put forward between the pages. One can live in true simplicity if they are in the six figure income range.

In some ways, the message is in the advertisements. I can look like I live in true simplicity if I purchase (very) expensive make up, kitchen supplies, furniture, etc. However, there is truth mixed in with (in my opinion)...deceit that comes from our society. The deceit that simplicity can be purchased.

For instance, in the article that I found very helpful, they were talking about their favorite kitchen products. One woman said she loved her Le Creuset cookware. I love mine, $150 I ever spent. My Le Creuset dutch oven is over twenty years old and it gets (almost) daily use. It's chipped on the inside now, probably because I put it in the dishwasher when it is suggested we....uh...don't. (What can I say, I had some really busy years in there!) I'd love to have a new one but they now cost over $200 and mine works just fine.

Well, this woman went on to say she loves all TEN of her Le Creuset pots and pans. One, two, even three Le Creuset items can be part of a simple lifestyle. I have one of their skillets (inherited from my mother-in-law) and if I had the money to purchase another item, I would get one of their really big dutch ovens or I'd replace the tea kettle that I ruined (don't ask). However...ten? That is not real simple living in the neighborhood I live.

Unless one has inherited wealth, one would have to work a lot of hours to afford that much Le Creuset. I don't know, perhaps they were gifts and I'm judging a person about something I don't know but that is not the point. It is the fact that a magazine that is supposedly teaching about simplicity so often gives a message that is anything but simple. There were many other instances in that same issue where consumerism was glorified.

True simplicity is found when we learn to be satisfied with less stuff and that living with less is not a bad thing. In our world that is driven by advertising agencies, we are made to feel inadequate and "less than" those around us if we live on a budget...purchase used out treasures in places other than Macy's...spend time at home with friends and family instead of going "out" each weekend...and find fulfillment in sitting on the porch with a great book rather than going to the Mall.

Don't get me wrong, I think paying more for a very good product is true simplicity, if that product is going to save us time and energy in our daily life. Cheap is not simple, it is just cheap. Simplicity also doesn't mean we never enjoy a little luxury. When my husband and I were running errands on a very hot day this week, I used some of my allowance to purchase us a Grande Chi Frappuccino at Starbucks. We sounded like two Furbys as we drove through town sharing the delicacy...yum! Money well spent. That's what it is all about.


Lady Laurie said...

Very well said. I bought this magazine once and couldn't believe the expensive products they were hawking to live a more simple life.

smilnsigh said...

Mmmm, I have seen that magazine. And yet, I seem to get an unpleasant feeling/attitude when I see it on magazine shelves.

Maybe I just learned 'the why,' of that. You must have hit on what irritates me about such a magazine.

Simple-*shimple.* Even the covers look EXPENSIVE! Not my view of the message of Simple Living, or of Simplicity.


Barb said...

Living in Las Vegas I can attest to this mindset dominating here in where I live. Being a midwest girl, I am often frustrated with trying to live differently, against the tide, so to speak. I have often wondered how much of this type of thinking has evolved on a bigger and wider basis as a result of our "technological age". Seems when we were more agrarian centered those who came before us knew/practiced the true art of "simple living".

~ Janice ~ said...

Very good post! This topic crosses my mind often. It's easy to look through magazines about simple or country living and see big dollar signs everywhere! As you said, sometimes we do need to spend, but other times not. A good life is all about being content with what we have, with some fun little flings along the way. :o)

SalsaAndTea said...

I was graciously gifted a subscription to this magazine. While I did enjoy the few articles, I often was put off by so many of the advertisements. It was rather difficult to actually find the articles amidst all of the ads!

Heather said...

I really appreciate your thoughts here Brenda - I find the quest to try to buy simplicity everywhere and every company seems to have the miracle product that will cure the hassles of daily life - also the attitude of entitilement prevails in our society - it's a potentent lure towards a sea of discontent!