In Praise of the Simple Life

A corona silver lining?

Posted May 22, 2020

Lina Pivaka, Pexels, Public Domain
Source: Lina Pivaka, Pexels, Public Domain

The pandemic has caused great sadness and fear, both medical and economic. Yet a number of people are finding a perhaps surprising silver lining: they're living more simply and less rushed.

In not having to commute and perhaps working a little less while at home, we may find ourselves willing to enjoy simple pleasures. For example, we might allow ourselves conversations that are less transactional or with more breathing space for thoughts and feelings beyond the reflexive top-of-mind. Instead of trying to cram our journaling, that most simple of self-improvement efforts, into a crevice in our tight days, we might now take extra moments to unearth more subterranean thoughts.

By not requiring hassle-filled travel for pleasure, we thereby prune that unpleasurable part, leaving purer pleasure. For example, my friend Bob Shusterman, sends me eye-opening videos of some of the world’s most amazing sights, from human to nature’s masterpieces. Here's an example. Before the pandemic, I never binge-watched TV but now find that, being at home so much, I've been watching BBC’s many-award-winning, Call the Midwife. I’ve now watched 5 1/2 seasons, which has produced a surprising benefit: I feel I’m a better counselor with my female clients having watched so much of that female-centric, psychologically rich show.

We may feel we have more time to do things we’ve been putting off, for example, getting tutoring or taking an online class on Udemy, Udacity, or LinkedIn Learning to build a skill. That could help assure our continued employment even if the shutdown’s effects endure. 

Less practical but still worthy might be to take a recreational MasterClass. For under $100, we can take a course on acting from Samuel L. Jackson, filmmaking from Martin Scorsese, photography from Annie Leibovitz, history from Doris Kearns Goodwin, or writing from Neil Gaiman.

I’ve finally taken the time to get my dog to come when called, well, most of the time, which could save his life. Whether about work or play, that idea—taking the time to go from good to great—could be more doable amid the shutdown.

Our shopping, now restricted because of COVID, encourages simple living. We may be reminded  that excess materialism rarely yields sufficient pleasure to justify the cost, the complexifying of life, and even perhaps reducing our financial security.

So while we all want the restrictions to lift so we can return to life sort of as we knew it, perhaps we should be a bit Buddhist about it and live in the moment because Stay-Home facilitates heretofore less-practiced simple pleasures. And just maybe, even when restrictions are lifted, we might choose to replace some of our careening, whirling-dervish existence with a bit of the simpler life.

I read this aloud on YouTube.