Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Simple Life

Two Thoughts for Tuesday

Is there anything to be learned about simplifying our life as Thoreau suggested in his writings?

Thought Number 1 ....Everything has gotten complicated
There are days that I just want to find a cabin in some remote area of woods and move in.  Not so much in the vein of the Uni-bomber or anything like that.  I want my cabin to look all cute and quaint with a rock fireplace....oh, and indoor plumbing...and a decent kitchen. So, perhaps, I need to work on my willingness to simplify.

My point, however, is that  I find that I am not OK with how complicated our world has become. Every move we make takes layers and layers of steps, rules, forms to fill out, dotted lines to sign, hit the accept or decline, be sure to read the fine print  and beware of the loop holes.

 As our technology advances, so does our level of "loss of control".  If you think this isn't true, try to call your cable carrier or your Internet provider and tell them that your need to adjust your bill because your service isn't working properly.  That will confuse them right away.  Do you need connected to tech support or billing? As you will be speaking to an automated customer service person...yeh, a machine, get used to the idea that it will sound something like this:

Surly machine:  Tell me briefly what you need...
You:  I need to talk to someone about my....(cutoff)
Surly machine...I did not understand you, please tell me briefly what you need
You: I need billing
Surly machine...I understood you to say you need billing, is that correct?
You:  yes
Surly machine: Please enter the phone number associated with this account
You: (crap...did I use my cell, home or work #....let's try cell)
Surly machine: Please enter the 6 digit password at this time
You: (are you effing kidding me, I don't remember what password I used...again a guess)
Surly machine...please enter your 32 digit account number
You; (at this point you are currently, frantically trying to locate your account number)...
Surly machine...I didn't get that, please enter your 32 digit account number or if you know the extension number of the party of which you wish to be connected to.  (I definitely have a digit that I would like to extend but, I suspect that isn't what surly machine is wanting)


When did everything get so cumbersome????  Don't get me wrong.  I am not so naive to think that every generation didn't have their own set of problems.  Providing for families, gainful and meaningful employment, finding contentment in one's life....Haven't all of those things always been in play?  For the purpose of today's post, I am not talking about the trials and tribulations that life brings, I am talking about how convoluted we have made the processes by which to manage our lives.

 It seems the processes that are required in our modern world to be employed,  remain healthy, pay taxes, even plan our funerals have just gotten CRAZY COMPLICATED.

So back to my first thought, "Why in all of our attempts to automate, clarify, make more user friendly (that one is hilarious)  condense, reduce waste, and all of the other reasons we have been given to substantiate the need for the ever changing processes in our life,  it is more complicated than ever before?

Thought Number 2..... Henry David Thoreau would need a prescription for anti-anxiety medication if he were alive today.

AND if Henry wanted  meds in today's world,  he better know which health care provider is on his network, what is his deductible, what is the co-pay, what is his primary and his supplemental coverages are, is he covered by Medicare or a private insurance company,  is his drug generic or name brand and can it be ordered at increments of 90 day supply for a cheaper rate...oh and does he have the proper forms or can his doctor submit the claim for him? Since it is going to be denied the first several go rounds, he might want to have the doctor watch his blood pressure readings, as well. Don't forget to ask about drug interactions and side effects, Henry??? Don't worry if you forget though, because a good malpractice lawyer will remind you on a TV commercial tomorrow morning during the news. 

Ahhhh...but let's go back to the peaceful thought of going off into a cabin in the woods, just as Thoreau did to find  inner peace and tranquility.

Forget it!!!  Part of the reason Henry ditched his life as he knew it was he was ticked about paying taxes. He was against having to pay real estate taxes.  All, I can say is his head would be spinning off the top of his body if he saw that Federal Income taxes came into being in 1912 and  our Tax Code is so long no one even knows how long it is.

Well,  Henry David Thoreau, you really had such a great idea to simplify life but in today's world I don't think you could escape.  There is, as the saying goes " no place to run, no place to hide".

Still it is nice to occasionally dream of the possibility of a simplified world while quoting one of Henry's lines such as  " Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.”

Of course, he also said, "I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government"
We can only hope.

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L.C. Griffith said...

Cheryl, I want to live in the woods too. Perhaps we could start a commune. Your writing is fabulous. Anyone who can make me laugh about automated customer service calls is damn funny! But I do agree... our lives are so damn complicated. We have too many choices at the grocery store, too many chemicals in our food, too much information about everything! Talk about TMI! Simplify simplify... indeed I'll try;)

Thechubbychatterbox said...

A once saw a t-shirt that I loved. It read: Simplify,Simplify. It was attributed to Thoreau but someone had crossed out the second "simplify."

Nicky said...

"I definitely have a digit that I would like to extend but, I suspect that isn't what surly machine is wanting." Hysterical!!

The thought of simplifying life is appealing, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it is - simply - against human nature. Thoreau lived in the 1800's - an era we would consider "a simpler time" and yet he preached simplifying life, even then.

Wolfbernz said...

Hi Cheryl,

I completely agree, that's why I ran away on a sailboat and turned off my phone. But it won't be long and I'll be right back into the middle of it all... back to reality.


Trina said...

I think that the dream of simplicity is a tease. Even when you simplify major things in life, you find that even the simplified version is still complicated.

Cheryl P. said...

Too funny with the simplifying shirt being simplified. I'd wear one if I thought it would actually have an effect on my life.

Cheryl P. said...

You are right, of course, totally unrealistic. If a person could time travel, Thoreau would think his life looked amazingly simple. He was crabbing about taxes on his land. Now he would have Federal, State, Sales, Personal Property, HOAs, and even taxes on how wide his driveway is if he lived in some suburbs of Kansas City. A hundred years from now perhaps people will think my Income Tax form of 40+ pages is nothing compared to theirs at 100 pages. Yikes, we need to find a desert island somewhere and set up our own little haven.

Cheryl P. said...

Everytime I read about your simplifying things, I mentally give you a high 5. I think it is hard to do. Yet, you are finding ways to reduce some of the crazyness. I applaud you.

Cheryl P. said...

We always are on similar wave lengths, my dear blogging friend. I hadn’t even thought about all the choices we face any given day or the concerns regarding health and well being. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could simplify but I suspect that our world is going to get more complicated not less. Still, isn’t it fun to dream.

Cheryl P. said...

Agreed...also, there is the fact, we think we want something until we have it and then it isn't what we expected it to be. As they say the grass is always greener.

oldereyes said...

I think Henry was a rare bird, even in his time. For most people, those simpler times meant shorter life spans, more incurable diseases, and hard labor. Technology has greatly improved our lives ... but it seems that what used to serve us now demands service. We need to simplify what goes on inside our heads, not what goes on around us.

Bodaciousboomer said...

I tried to get Doug to move to Panama about five years. I told him we could live in a yurt. Life would be simple. It sounded great to me.

He was somewhat more than unenthusiastic about my proposition.

Cheryl P. said...

How funny that you would say that. I proposed the same thing to my husband and had some tricked out yurt pictures as a selling point. Of course, one just assumes that I am talking smack and don't mean one word of what I say. Still the thought of places that have a bit less buraucracy seem appealing. If it wasn't for the proximaty of my kids, I think I would be doing some research on where to simplify my life.

Cheryl P. said...

I agree to the point that one has to try to have the right mind set BUT... hubby and I spent the first 40 years of our life working hard, we have been building our little mountain of "aquisitions". We bought stuff....land, houses, cars, started a few businesses, bought a farm and the mountain grew. THEN the stuff starts becoming complicated...the portfolios, the retirment funds, the insurances, the forms and figures. One example alone...I get a form the size of a book to ask how we plant, what we plant, even how much fertilizer we put on a field at our farm. Why because the government sent us a check for $75.00 (that we didn't ask for) for some farm subsidy program. Now I have a crap load of questioneers that I am obligated by law to answer. I know this because all over the form it says "UNDER PENALTY OF LAW" Now that isn't friendly.

As for the mountain of stuff I am ready to start bulldozing that sucker down. Bit by bit. I have about 20-25 years hopefully (if I make it to the national average for women to live) , to cut this down into a nice little managable hill.

I am truly thankful for my blessings of family, health, home and hearth but I want less intrusion, less paperwork, less rules and regulations. If I want to hang wash on a wash line (which I can't as it is against the rules where I live) or plant flowers in my fields instead of corn, it would make me happy.

Henry was a rare bird and went against the grain of the norm but maybe everyone gets to a tipping point of where they find that something is no longer reasonable.

Oh, and while I sound crabby as hell, in reality I wouldn't really escape. I will fill out the forms and pay the taxes, follow the rules because my family is here and I will do what it takes to stay connected to them. I will even read the fine print and talk to the electronic voices of customer service robots but I will probably not competely be at peace with it.

meleahrebeccah said...

Don't get me wrong, I love technology, and I would DIE without the internet. However, I couldn't agree more. I miss the days when things were simpler. And I have often imagined running away to live in a cabin or a hut on the beach!

I can't EVEN get started on healthcare and/or government.

Cheryl P. said...

That's what I am talking about...I love the technology, the meat that comes in packages, the cereal in boxes, Diet Coke and Iphones (simaltaneously) but I am totally sick of how complicated healthcare, insurance, anything related to taxes etc.
I yearn for the less complicated time of generations gone, at least as far as bureaucratic nonsence goes. Since I don't have a choice anyway, I am hap-hap-happy to put up with all of it and count my blessings. I still get to bitch about it from time to time though.

meleahrebeccah said...

Hell yes. You can TOTALLY bitch about it!
And I'll be right next to you, complaining.

Bodaciousboomer said...

We're in that time betweeen kids and grandkids. Now though with the new biz starting up I don't think we'll ever really be able to go on a permanent basis anyway.