Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bare Necessities

And don't spend your time lookin' around 
For something you want that can't be found 
When you find out you can live without it 
And go along not thinkin' about it 
I'll tell you something true . . . 
The bare necessities of life will come to you

"Bare Necessities" The Jungle Book

The other day, as I was doing the weekly closeout at the work, I indulged myself in a little Pandora listening. The station I listen to has slowly evolved into a somewhat terrifying blend of Andrew Lloyd Webber, the Glee soundtracks, Disney, and 80s rock, so it was really no surprise when the Jungle Book classic "Bare Necessities" queued up after "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina." It's one of those songs that's instantly recognizable but which, if I try to sing along, I quickly find I know hardly any of the words beyond the chorus.

But this time, for whatever reason, I really listened to the lyrics. (Maybe because it was the end of the week and the closeout was not without its frustrating moments.) And I was struck by the lines I quoted at the top of the post.

For a while now, I've been pretty convinced that we make our own happiness and that we have to find the goodness in all that surrounds us, rather than living our lives on a quest towards "happiness." "Happiness," and whatever we may imagine it to be in all of its "air quote" deserving glory, is pretty much just another pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But while we're all susceptible to some "black dog days" every now and then, I think for most of us, a simple inventory of our lives and all that fills them is enough for us to feel happiness, or at the very least a sense of well-being and gratitude.
 
"It's so true," I thought as I listened to Baloo and Mowgli belt it out. "It really does all boil down to the bare necessities." 

You see, Andy and I have been trying to live a little more simply this year. Not that we were living so large and extravagantly before.

But with some large financial goals looming (hello you beautiful Emerald Isle, you) and rising grocery prices, we've been carefully keeping our discretionary spending in check. Our spending hasn't extended far beyond the bare necessities: groceries, gas, rent, et. al. We haven't gone out to eat in nearly two months and I haven't bought myself so much as a skein of yarn or book in months.

And you know what?

As extreme and "no fun" as it sounds, we haven't exactly been feeling deprived. We've been eating a ton of delicious home-cooked meals (many of them featuring produce from our garden), I have a stack of borrowed books so high it'll take me until winter to get through them all,  and enough yarn on hand to, well, open an Etsy shop. Besides, it's kind of fun to sock the money away, rather than frittering it away on meals out that neither our wallets or our waistlines need.

It's satisfying, really, living with the bare necessities. (Keeping in mind of course, we're not exactly roughing it here.) This morning, it felt wonderful to can four pints of blueberry pie fillings, knowing every single berry I canned had been picked by my own little hands. And there's no greater thrill than looking out the window when you're washing up the supper dishes to find a big bunch of tomatoes ripening up in the shade of the bushy plants. Granted, living with the bare necessities requires more effort and labor, but the extra effort has also comes with richer rewards - like a fatter bank account and rows and rows of home-canned goodness and a garden bursting with produce.
When you strip it all down to the bare necessities, you find there's very little you really need, because, when you think of it, actually, you already have quite a bit.

 

2 comments:

  1. i love this! living in LA gives you major cases of the why-not-me's and i'm just sick and tired of feeling jealous and "not enough" all the time. while i don't want to sock myself away in the house all the time, i do want to just get back to living simply and doing what makes me happy. love love love this.

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  2. I love it too. I have always been a frugal person and try to live with only what I need. Love the song connection! I could do better I'm sure. I also could do much better focusing on my blessing. My life is kind of a struggle right now but it's all by choice and I know I would feel less stressed if I focused on the good. Thank you!
    MA

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