Living aboard a boat has never been solely about sailing for me. In my hopes it has always persisted as an avenue for diving fully into a new and uncertain way of life and by doing so, perhaps encounter my own ideology. I turned to the sea to look for an answer to some of the unease I felt when I first began exploring my country as an adult.
“A person who is going to make a fruitful inquiry into the question of the best political arrangement must first set out clearly what the most choiceworthy life is. For if that is unclear, the best political arrangement must also be unclear.”-Aristotle
My exploration of Simple Living has gone deeper than reducing stuff, spending less, and living in a small space. It is more than just enjoying nature, or taking time to smell the roses. It is not my manner to run up the flag hailyard any political party, presidential candidate, or policy. But, with all the friction in today’s political and social discourse, I find that I must view it from a simplicity perspective.
Simple living is not separate from politics. In fact, an interest in simple living has often been central to political discussion. Ben Franklin, The Nearings, Aristotle, Thomas Jefferson, Gandhi, and Jimmy Carter are all examples of people who have inspired me toward simplicity, but have also brought that same discussion to politics.
“If we are seriously looking for approaches that will actually change the lived experience of mainstream life in this country, we have to go well beyond personal economies….we have to change social policies.” –Jerome Segal
When exploring a new ideology, the personal experience is always at the nucleus. I began by purging myself of my excess things, and fitting the rest aboard a boat. From that starting point, I changed the way I engaged in many other aspects of life; the books I read, the food I ate, where I shopped, even how I vacationed. And all the while I was creating a set of ideals around my lifestyle aboard Daphne.
At some point, I began to look beyond myself at how these values harmonize with the collective values of American culture. For simplicity to be possible to me, it must also be possible for other Americans who desire that path. It isn’t easy to live simply in today’s culture. I wonder if Simplicity needs to be more on the minds of our political leaders in order for it to thrive as a viable and sustainable option for most Americans. I took the opportunity during my TED talk to briefly introduce Simplicity in the context of America’s current public sector because I often question its practicality today.
I’ve heard it said that it takes a community to raise a child and prepared him for adulthood. It would seem the same would apply for nurturing a way of life and making its success possible for those that desire it.