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Living Simply

Did you ever read My Side of the Mountain?  It’s the story of a young boy who tells his parents that he’s going to go live in the mountains. By himself. At 12 years old.  They let him go because they think it will wear off soon.

But his adventure carries on as he learns to live in a tree, catch fish, trap rabbits, and forage for berries and wild plants.  Eventually, his parents realize that he’s not coming back, so they pack up their family and move to join him.

I’ve always loved that book.  As a child, I took up romantic notions of going off to live in the wild myself.  By high school, I was collecting backpacking materials, reading survival books, and dreaming of wilderness adventures.  I looked into mission trips that would get me to remote parts of the world.

One day, I told my mom that I was going to Colorado for two weeks to backpack as part of a wilderness adventure camp.  I had to take 12-hour bus ride to get there.  And I loved it.

Such was my pursuit of the simple life—the idea that I could live with a few things that mattered, and a few people that mattered.  In the years since then, I’ve found my life a bit more crowded:  college degree, law degree, house, cars, wife, children, college educations, and the list goes on.

But in my heart I still think about that day, that idea of living simply.  I find myself now an urban traveler looking for ways to simplify my life. I haven’t yet resorted to running away and living on a mountain, but I have found ways to whittle away the noise and de-clutter my suburban life.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Go through your closet and donate everything you haven’t worn in the past six months to charity.
  2. Unsubscribe from every email newsletter that you haven’t read in the past month.
  3. Go through your house, your storage unit, your closets, your garage and clean them out. Donate everything you’ve just let sit there.  If it’s got dust, donate it!
  4. Simplify by deepening. Reconnect with a few old friends.  Start a conversation with them.  Maybe even do the unthinkable and write a letter—a real one.
  5. Go for a walk at a nature park. Count the number of clouds.
  6. Journal every week on your past.
  7. Declare a “no media” day—no cell phone, email, Facebook, TV, etc.
  8. Take a 24-hour retreat by yourself. Take only a Bible and notebook.
  9. Don’t buy any new possession for six months.

So what are your ideas?  Share your simple living tips, and maybe, just maybe we can get back to what’s important.

About Bill High

Bill is CEO of the Signatry: A Global Christian Foundation. He works with families, individual givers, and financial advisers to share the foundation’s message regarding biblical generosity and charitable giving. » Learn More. He is the co-author with David Green of Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously.

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