Thoreau said, "a man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone." And this is a sentiment I think about often....and am reminded of often given my fiance is constantly quoting Henry David. But, consumerism, capitalism, materialism and all other -isms associated with the American way, can be difficult to untangle yourself from. It's such a part of our every day life that sometimes we can get to the point of not even recognizing how far from Thoreau's ideal we are living.
Several years ago I visited the Kripalu center for Yoga & Health (in Stockbridge, Mass) for the first time. That initial visit was what I can now identify as the beginning of my true path, an awakening, untangling myself from those -isms, from ego, from societal demands and pressure...and from everything else polluting a simple, authentic existence. Part of that experience was the overwhelming feeling that came over me as I stood in the bare-walled, decoration free room with a wool blanket covered twin bed that I was assigned to in this glorious building that was originally a monastery and then an ashram (read: VERY low key and simple). I stood there feeling the most peaceful, content and free I'd ever felt, thinking to myself that I could leave all the Pottery Barn furniture, Coach purses, and Anthropologie clothes back in my San Francisco apartment, not caring where my belongings ended up, because what I'd been searching for in that extravagant lifestyle, in that expensive city was only being buried under my attempts to find it. What I needed was within me and would thrive and shine in places like Kripalu, because the layers of those -isms evaporate in such simple, real, and inspiring environments.
I have since emancipated myself from a job I held onto merely for the big paycheck, instead opting to live as an artist; moved out of the city that, although gorgeous and lively, made me loose myself in the opulence; and I no longer feel the need to outfit myself with every new piece of clothing or accessory on the market. And wouldn't you know it....I am content, peaceful and feel as rich as ever because I have learned to leave so much alone.
It was these very thoughts that were swirling through my head the day I drove through the Omish farm country of New York state (pictured above....I've been away on vacation for the past 2 weeks). I admit, it takes work, at times, for me to remain on my simple path and not get sucked back into my former love for inanimate objects...especially since I moved from one pricey zip code to another (the Gold Coast, CT). But, witnessing these Omish farmers hanging their clothes from clotheslines, bailing their hay, riding down the road in actual horse and buggies, and totally unaware of any pressure to be any other way....well, it quickly centered me that day and reminded that I am still rich in all the areas that count.