Apr 18 2011
Duane Elgin argues that simplicity is not about living an agrarian lifestyle but a lifestyle of “making the most of wherever you are.” Throughout this reading I kept returning to an image from my favorite book, Anna Karenina, where Tolstoy spends 50 pages explaining the process of Levin cutting his grass in the countryside. Although most people who read Anna Karenina find this portion of the novel unbarable, I found Tolstoys analysis of the relationship between person and nature enlightening. It is not the actions or the location that are important, it is Levin’s attitude that makes the difference. The way in which an individual lives their life, not the material objects that they acquire, determine their happiness. Elgin explains that living simplistically is simultaneously external and internal, similar to Levin’s actions in the field. Levin at once participates in physical activity and philosophical thought. Through this process of becoming in touch with his actions through thought, Levin both enjoys and recieves enlightenment from the strenuous activity. If people, like Levin, live deliberately and sustainably, then they will recieve happiness from every situation. I think this article ties the semester together by showing that although consumerism is a vital part of every lifestyle (even simplistic lifestyles) it is the way in which the individual participates in consumerism that makes the difference. A simplistic life depends on thoughts and planned activities instead of depending on impulses.
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