Yes, I am on a mission. I am going to read all the books on simplicity that I can find. That will be a delight. I remember that even as a child I had these reading marathons: I read all Balzac I could find, all Dostoievski, all Emile Zola (actually, this attempt didn’t last long because I couldn’t stand Zola’s writing), later all Paula Coelho. This reminds me that I am behind with the Coelho reading. I haven’t read The Witch of Portobello. After being incredibly disappointed by Zahir, a horrible, macho, non-coelhian novel, I am not really looking forward to see what he’s done next. But I believe that Coelho writes his best as a woman, and this might be one of those books. I’ll tell all about it after reading it (probably next week, because I have made myself curious now).
Voluntary Simplicity seemed to me too theoretical. The author discusses the evolution of developed societies from “high growth”, through “full blossoming” and “initial decline” to “breakdown”. The breakdown is inevitable, it has started already, we have to be prepared to face it and raise above it, and simplicity is the way to do it. This is the message. It is a sociological essay about the future of civilization.
The most interesting part for me was the voices of numerous people involved in this simplicity lifestyle who answered the author’s questionnaire in support of this book. That makes for an interesting read as people of so many backgrounds, so many ages and stages in life choose this path, which is one of self search and enlightenment as much as it is a vehicle of social change.
What will stay with me is his acknowledgement of the importance of women movements, or just women, in leading the environmental issues. Also, the idea that poverty is not equal to simplicity. Simplicity, in order to be fulfilling, to feed the soul, has to be chosen.