The path to living a more simple life can seem sometimes to be very slow and winding. The steps along the way are often very small changes to the way we live and each one may not seem to be very significant on its own. I find this can leave me feeling overwhelmed by the things I think need to be done and I forget how far I've come.
This happened to me on Saturday. We travelled to a "designer outlet" for eldest teenager to find some new clothes. It took us 45 mins to get there along the motorway, we parked in a huge car park and walked into the mall. It was a very sterile environment, very clean and bright and probably very nice if you like shopping, which I don't. After a very brief look round, I found a cafe and decided to sit and people watch while waiting for the rest of the family.
I thought about the shopping experience and how long places like this will be able to exist. I imagine that nearly everyone who visits comes by car often travelling (like us) considerable distances so a lot of energy is used just getting there. The amount of consuming going on was amazing, although we were there just after opening time nearly everyone I saw carried at least one carrier bag. I started to feel guilty that we were there at all - I mean if nobody went to these places they wouldn't exist would they? so me being there was contributing to their existence. The whole trip didn't fit into my idea of leading a simpler life at all.
Today we spent the day at home. I walked to the shop in the village for the Sunday paper. We didn't go anywhere and so didn't use the car. I baked bread for lunch and picked salad from the garden. I read the paper and spent time in the garden. Our evening meal contained vegetables I had grown at my allotment and for pudding we had blackcurrant fool made from our own blackcurrants which I had bottled last summer.
Having a relaxing day I realised that there are lots of things I do now that have become habits and that I don't think of being particularly green or eco-friendly, they are just the way I live my life. When I first made changes, low energy light bulbs, doing washing at 40C, taking bags with me when I go shopping, making bread, growing some fruit and vegetables, not replacing the dishwasher, buying a small car, etc etc I was very aware of the changes as I made them. Now I no longer think about them they have become second nature. Now and again though I think it is worth reflecting on how far we have come rather than beating ourselves up about what we are not doing.
I had to visit the dentist last week for two fillings in my wisdom teeth (not nice) and afterwards my dentist said that my face would feel numb for two or three hours and to " be gentle on yourself for a while". I think that it is a good piece of advice in many situations. Although we may be understanding towards others we often don't treat ourselves as kindly. So, having looked back and thought about how far I have come I intend to remember that living simply is a journey and that from time to time I might take a bit of a detour but if I do I hope I will have patience with myself as I get back on track.