Simplicity & Self-Reliance: In The Convergence Zone

Submitted by ARL contributor Harry Tuttle

Convergence Theory – the approach toward a definite value, a definite point, a common view or opinion, or toward a fixed or equilibrium state. In mathematics, it describes limiting behavior, particularly of an infinite sequence or series.

So, are we there yet?

No, but the options are clearly becoming more and more limited.  In this case, the convergence zone might be likened to a game of musical chairs, where each new event takes another chair away.

A World of Diminishing Opportunity?

To my eyes, this is happening – progressively – with each passing year, month, and day.  Yes, technology has the appearance of expanding our horizons and capabilities and, to a certain extent that can be true.  Should you choose to follow the more conventional “tech- herd”, you will, for a time, flow along down the river (to mix our metaphors a bit) with the world in what would appear to be a very conventional and, ostensibly, stable mode of life.

Here at ARL, of course, we know well enough to doubt the casual appearance of success, looking downstream for the hidden rapids and the bigger falls past the horizon.  To some, the this massive recession served as a timely wake-up call.  Did it take losing your home or your job to alert you to such dangers?  Or, just seeing it happen to so many others, were you reminded of Robert Burns famous lines:

The best laid schemes of Mice and Men oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain, For promised joy!

Again, to my way of thinking, I can’t help but describe the world as one of diminishing choices when you:  

  • you can’t buy a home without crushing debt, but, are punished for saving to avoid that debt,
  • can’t get a job without some kind of permit, but, can’t make a product without government oversight,
  • can’t expect public schools to affirm your parental authority, but, can’t afford to give up a job to home-school your kids,
  • can’t even hang your laundry in a typical subdivision yard, but, either can’t afford or can’t get permission to build a more modest home outside of a subdivision,

Where’s the Upside?

I’ll admit, that’s pretty negative take on some common issues facing those trying of us trying to make our lives more reasonable.  In truth, you CAN work around most of those obstacles, it just takes a willingness to sacrifice conformity, embrace deferred gratification, and a persistent committment to your liberty, economic or otherwise.  It isn’t easy, but it can be done.  

In effect, as more chairs are taken out of the game, you must be willing to stand or learn to sit comfortably on the ground.  You must learn to anticipate the music ending.  In the end, you must be more prepared than the other players in the game and, frankly, that’s not all that hard.

Know Thyself

The simplest solutions require knowing what’s really important to you.  Is it the new house?  The high paying (or important sounding) job?  Your kid’s sports?  The big screen TV?  Your pension?  Yep, giving up all of these (and more) may be the price for the kind of freedom we’re talking about.    

If any of these threaten your peace of mind, your faith, or the quality of your relationships, you might want to rethink the equation.  You might consider exchanging some of the material and worldly for more of the simple and spiritual.   I know, that’s pretty basic groundwork for those already engaged in the voluntary simplicity movement.  Still, it’s worth being reminded of things that we already know, but tend to forget when under pressure. 

Simple Truths (That We Forgot)

For those that have actually tried it, this process affords some surprising truths, such as:

  • home cooking can be better, much better even, than restaurant fare,
  • home grown food is almost always of better quality than store bought,
  • the people in some places don’t even notice what you’re wearing or driving,
  • the art of conversation is not dead, just weakened for lack of practice,
  • the rain won’t hurt you, you’re “water-proofed” at the factory,
  • time goes by fast enough to not want to hurry it along it’s way,
  • being able to “make do” also means you have more to give.

I could cite more examples, cliché’s even, but, again, I think it helps to be reminded just how transitory and fleeting our lives are.  To fill them with temporary fads and fashion only adds to the sense that we’re merely “striving after wind”. 

Keep it simple and find a good seat in the “convergence zone”.

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