A Question About Simplicity 

I read an article recently that was thought provoking. Even so in that it was a subject so dear to me that I ponder on it often. This sets a preamble to thoughts I pen down below. Here is the link to the full post.

The article goes on something like this. A person vexed with urbanization and the hardships that it poses to individuals goes and starts living in a forest (kinda) area with family. He says, in modern society people buy beautiful houses at a large expense and live their rest of life on the mortgage burden. We have forgotten to love Nature and live naturally. We are in the rat race of acquiring materialistic things one after the other and live all our lives to acquire them or to pay off for them. So there are fourteen other like-minded families who join him. They acquire some land and start leading a community living. They build their houses nearly all of it by themselves, needless to say using locally available natural resources. Mud houses provide several benefits and are cheap. The best part is the satisfaction of living in a house that is literally built by own hands. They cultivate their own organically grown produce from grains & pulses to fruits and vegetables. They have a community kitchen that feeds the entire community. This gives them all the time in the world (which has become so scarce today for most of us) to do things that they loved to do otherwise. For one member it is music, for someone else it is painting. The guy says the food is so delicious as it is entirely made of organic produce, they are expanding their guest house to accommodate the ever increasing visitors to their village. That’s in brief what was in the article. I encourage you to read the original article to get the full flavour. I may not have done my best in reillustrating it. So that’s a preamble anyway to what I want to say.

Really this sounds like a fairy tale or dream to some of us. Life would be so much simpler and hopefully, happy! You wake up to the sounds of chirping birds as sun bestows his first light on Earth. It is quite peaceful to wake-up not hurried by the jump start wake-up by noise of an alarm or the sound polluting vehicles or people shouting in the colony to let us know indirectly that we could be late to office again. As you wake-up and sip your first coffee, you are having an unhurried conversation with spouse or kids. Very unlike that hurried reading of newspaper in the front room and concerned you might be taking too much time reading the news instead of getting ready to office. Or worse, planning the office work or concerned of what could be in the e-mail for you that day. Sure it does look like a black and white photograph where a picture is brought to its basics of what it wants to convey than be distracted by bright colors. 

I used to walk during my school days. To everything. I upgraded to bicycling during my college days. Boy, was it fun! Enjoyed it thoroughly. Took it to everywhere! I upgraded to my most beloved Bullet motorcycle as I stepped into my career after finishing CA. It put smile on me everytime I sat on it. Took it to everywhere. Can’t relish more the joy of my newly wedded wife pillion riding me as I upgraded to a second hand Maruti car as I expanded my family. It was one of a kind feeling to be driving a car for a young person that I was then. Rain or summer did not matter. I could take it anywhere. And I did. I was happy and content. I upgraded to a new BMW after I landed in the US. No hesitation. It was the best car I owned. The fun my BMW brought to me was immense. Felt I had the best of both. A Sports car and a Sedan in one.  Took it to everywhere. Didn’t care to keep mileage low so resale value could be high. Took it for very long distances too instead of renting a car unlike some did. Took it everywhere. Now I ride a motorcycle whenever I can leaving my 150 horse powered Skoda Rally Sport car at home. Because I KNOW riding a motorcycle is a lot more fun than driving a car. Lack of air-conditioning is not so much of an issue. If any, it is offset by other fun I get. And I ride, have ridden, a lot on cycle. The fun of riding a mountain bike over an off-road that is filled with potholes and boulders is unparalleled to riding anything that has a motor including a motorcycle. When in car I was sorry i wasn’t on a motorcycle to halt wherever I wanted to shoot a picture when something came up interesting. When on motorcycle I was sorry I wasn’t walking so I didn’t have to ‘make’ a halt to shoot a picture when I wanted. Today when I do 12 km walk after dinner, I feel that walking is lot more peaceful and relaxing when compared to even bicycling of 5 hours. I wish I could do lot more walking. If not to everywhere, to most places. And with a very very tiny little exposure that I have of meditation I am confident of my opinion that done right and well, ALL of happiness can be found just by sitting and doing nothing!

The important thing though is, a black and white picture looks best amidst plethora of color pictures. What if everything was black and white and no color anywhere, whatsoever? Simplicity is very difficult as the Japanese have taught us through their hi-tech products. They are great but complex to build. Despite the functionality and flexibility it provides, a manual shift in a car is cumbersome compared to the simplicity of an auto shift after all. 

Question is ‘when is enough is enough’? If living in jungles is what gives us happiness, then why did we spend trillions of man-hours developing things that make our lives easier? If the guy thinks formal education in the school was not giving what his son will eventually need in life and takes his top school performer kid off of it and getting him to know agriculture or whatever by practice and self learning, then are we saying world does not have a need to know how atom bombs are made? Or how a satellite is made? Or how to land on moon? Or how to make a motorized transportation vehicle to make it easy to move from place to place? 

If organically produced food is the best thing for man, then shouldn’t we haven’t invented fertilizers and pesticides at all? Would such produce been adequate to feed the 6.7 billion and ever increasing human population? If there was no air-conditioning invented should we have allowed many people die of cold in cold places? Yes, I know ozone layer is depleting because of some of our inventions. But when is enough is enough? How do you draw the line? Where do you draw the line? When do you draw the line? Are we good enough today to draw the line? Do we get there any day, someday? Are we even progressing in that direction to be able to draw the line some day in future? 

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