Simplicity, the holy grail

After I added some links to my blogroll, and apparently wasted time, it occurred to me it wasn’t a waste of time at all. There’s a theme running through those sites I like: simplicity.

Simplicity is a concept that’s fashionable right now, expressed stylishly in the magazine Real Simple, where the slogan is “life made easier, every day”. And this magazine – and others like it –  are truly seductive: pages and pages of quiet, clean, minimalist ideas for decor and living – see this spread on how to use a vase, for instance.

Reality TV is on this bandwagon too – from Anthea Turner to Neat (my favourite – that Helen is irresistible), from Life Laundry to (the truly awful) Clean House, there is the alluring promise that somehow, a stress-free and simple life can be attained by throwing a lot of stuff away and getting some pretty vases.

Although that is fashionably dismissive in it’s own way (no one ever confesses to liking reality TV). The best of these shows make it clear that attaining a Neat house is the product of some hard emotional and physical work. But they do hold the out the fantasy that someone else can come in and do it for you.

So where does that leave ordinary mortals with no Helen, little money and less time, and slew of reasons not to tidy the kitchen cupboards?

It leaves us in our mess, and chaos, and late coming, and procrastination, and guilt, and frustration, and crabbiness. It leaves us with a pile of 10-year-old papers in a box in the loft that smell mysteriously of cat pee. It leaves us wondering where the hell the scissors went this time.

And what we want, if we can state it realistically, is not Anthea Turner’s life. We want to be able to find things, to remember appointments, not be be in financial trouble. To have houses with clear spaces and room to to the things we want and rooms that welcome our guests. In short, real simplicity. Clarity. Peace. Space and time to do productive work and have fun and love people.

So, do I have that?

Some of the time, I approach the simple life. Most of the time I still can’t find a f***ing pen to fill in a form from the school.

But I have learnt some things that I’d like to share. And that’s the theme of this blog: how to attain a simple life, some of the time.