UPDATE: Congrats to Mike for winning the contest! Thanks for participating everyone!
In this post author Will Robertson speaks about the Simplicity themes that are woven into his latest children’s book, “Boxes.” And what’s more, we are giving away a framed original, signed charcoal illustration of the boy and his box! Read on to find out how to win an adorable illistration!
“Boxes” reminded me of a summer where I spent many nights sleeping in a cardboard box with my friend who lived next door. Did you play with a cardboard box as a child? Do you still?
Boxes are a part of everyone’s childhood. My own kids have had a few epic boxes themselves. Whenever I find a good box, it gets played with. It seems like a crime to just stuff thing into them and stick them in storage.
How do you hope children will respond to “Boxes?” How did your children respond? Do you think simplicity is something that can be taught?
My own kids are biased. They loved it!
Simplicity can be taught, but it also has to be consistently applied throughout the whole family. I’ve had friends where the dad would try to downsize, but the mom never had to downsize her things. I think that it makes living simply seem like a punishment or a burden to everyone else.
It’s key to keep our goals and our values front-and-center so that our children know they really are going to impact our family.
What is your approach to simplicity?
For me, the draw to simplicity is not about having a certain number of possessions but more about making sure that a possession is adding value. With our kids, we emphasized the idea that we were not just removing things, but that we were adding in good things. We started cooking with our kids and going on walks. We found that if you stopped and focused on a bush, after a few minutes, the bush suddenly became alive with insect activity.
I think there’s an adventure in simplicity.
Todays discourse on Simplicity focuses heavily on downsizing and reduction of things. I find this to be a very limiting definition. As the boy filled up his box with toys and things, I couldn’t help but think that there must be a deeper metaphor. Maybe the things represented relationships, activities, or habits that are more detrimental than enriching. In addition to reducing our unnecessary belongings, how do you think we can apply the boy’s lesson to our lives?
It’s easy to look at possessions as the problem, when really, it’s the symptom. If I have a runny nose, I don’t cut off my nose to make my cold go away. Simply owning less, it won’t bring you joy. You can’t just take out the bad, you need to make sure you’re aiming for something great as well. In the end, the boy isn’t just happy because he only owns a box, he’s happy because the box is allowing him to be part of a great adventure.
I heard a great quote that went something like: Don’t sacrifice what’s great for what’s good.
The boy’s box had unlimited potential. As he accumulated possessions, each one had a purpose. None of them fed his creativity. None of them changed him in any way. They were good. There’s nothing wrong with them. But they weren’t great.
The key to downsizing is to get back to where we should have been all along. That’s what he does. As he removes the barriers, he finds himself back where he was content.
I think the principle of resetting yourself is key to the idea of simplicity and contentment.
In the end, the boy sails away in his box searching for a land where everyone is happy, but finds happiness instead in the adventure. I think a lot of people start cruising searching for the same thing. I recently set sail on a voyage searching for an iceberg only to rediscover that it’s often the quest that brings happiness, not the destination. What in your life inspired you to write a story with such a simple, yet powerful sentiment?
As my wife and I started to earn more, it seemed like the more stuff we got, the more we couldn’t quite afford. One day, we were replacing a spatula for the third time, and I asked my wife, “Do you think we’ll ever have enough?”
We immediately decided to map out the life we wanted to live. That propelled us into a life of pursued simplicity. The change in who we are as people has been more of a blessing than trips we can take or activities we can do.
I looked at your website and read the book cover to cover. I just have one more burning question. Is your house yellow or blue-ish gray?
Ha. It was yellow when I delivered the book. Now, we’ve moved and our house is blue-ish gray.
Will had a lot of great stuff to say, but sadly I had to shorten the interview significantly – blog readers tend to read and engage with only short posts! If you feel like you missed something, you can read his entire interview here. You can purchase this book on Amazon!
Now for the giveaway! Answer the following question in the comments below to be entered to win a framed original, signed charcoal illustration of the boy and his box. The winner will be selected on Wednesday the 22nd so you must comment before midnight on the 21st.
What’s your box? In other words, what thing do you have that gives you the most enrichment?