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Shippy's avatar

Do you ever crave the simple life?

Asked by Shippy (9852 points ) January 20th, 2013

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying watching a Documentary series on the Amish lifestyle. I am so envious. The simple way they live and the sense of community. In good times and bad times they are there for each other. I know there are issues within the community, but overall they have something very special.

In everyday life, it just seems as thought there is no sense of community, not even within some families. We prize independence, we prize earning well etc., but we don’t put much emphasis on family. Or extended family as in friends for example. I personally don’t have any family left. (Except my son). So for me that part seems so helpful and amazing.

Do you feel to some extent one can recreate this simple supportive life, despite living in the ‘world’. Meaning this alienating society that has been created? Plus also not having having family.

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26 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

The Amish life is very prescriptive; they pay a price for the community. It is always a delicate balance.

One can find a family that is not of origin.

cookieman's avatar

Nope. I like modern, city-based life. I certainly enjoy quiet, but have no interest in living like the Amish – or even a country of farm lifestyle.

I do struggle with “family” and “community” though. There are still people you “must” spend time with and the people I want to spend time with often have little time beyond their own obligations.

hearkat's avatar

I think the Amish lifestyle is a bit too far in the opposite direction for me. I appreciate their hard-working nature and humility. I don’t know that their lives are ‘simpler’ because of all the rules that must be followed. I think there should be a way to strike a balance.

I know people who have developed very close friendships, and create community with their neighbors. I admire and appreciate that, because those social skills are completely foreign to me. Even when I lived in a neighborhood where the neighbors that were my age were very close, warm, and welcoming, I felt like an outsider. I wonder if it’s my innate introversion, or lingering lack of confidence from my abusive childhood, but probably both.

Jeruba's avatar

I’ve seen committed practitioners of Zen simplify their lives beautifully without having to subscribe to a set of rigid restrictions that govern everything they do. You can live in the modern world and still observe principles that give you a great deal of freedom from the mental and material clutter that burdens so many of us.

wundayatta's avatar

I have community in my life. I also have an urban life. The Amish and Mennonites are a big part of life in Philadelphia. So we interact with them all the time. I’m not sure their lives are all that simple.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Simple life? yes. Amish life? Hell no. When I lived in Belize that was, to me, the simple life. Everything was just at a slow pace. It was beautiful. I lived in a fairly small town and everyone was quite friendly. You couldn’t pass someone on the street without them at least saying hello to you. Over time you got to recognize everyone and know most of the people, with time I really felt like I became a part of that community. I miss it a lot…

The thing that I found most interesting, and I kind of suspected it before, was that all these electronic devices we surround ourselves with to “make life easier” don’t. Not in the slightest. They just complicate things. The first couple of days you miss the internet, phone, tv, or whatever but then you just as quickly forget about it all and realize your life is much easier and happier without it all.

The ironic thing is I learned this valuable lesson and yet here I am back in the US using all these stuff again. I am a product of my environment….

JLeslie's avatar

Simple yes, but I like having some modern conveniences. My husband and I are moving and we get to reevaluate what type of community we want to live in, how big our house/apt will be, how close to work for him, etc.

We are moving back to FL, which in some ways will be simpler, because warm weather is simpler than cold in my mind. T-shirt and shorts and just walk outside. We are trying to see if we can find an area where we can walk out our door and withing a 5 minute walk be at restaurants and places to hang out. Kind of a downtown feel, but not a big city. Even better would be a neighborhood feel with some Shops amd food within walking distance, but that is much harder to find. Some of those mixed use communities are popping up in America, but it is just starting. People can walk or just take golf carts into the village center and all the conveniences are there. That sounds perfect to me.

I like the community feeling the Amish have, I would guess Chassidic Jews and other groups have that intense community feeling also. The psychological support. Friendships. But, the Amish demand too much conformity for me. Also, their lack of education would get tiresome I think. I want to learn new things, scientific discoveries, know the world. I am not saying the Amish are stupid or anything, I don’t mean that at all.

Aster's avatar

Crave would be too strong of a word. At times I’d welcome silence, though: no tv on, hearing birds singing, the sound of a small wind chime, no phones ringing. But then I’d like to switch right back to certain things I have now. In other words, I’d want to control the environment and not have to conform to the rules and regulations of Amish living. And all that gardening. Do they even have clothes washers? I doubt it.

zensky's avatar

All the time.

bookish1's avatar

I suppose I do, but not as the Amish live it, or any other tightly knit and traditional religious community…
I crave community and connection. I definitely understand the dark side of Western individualism, but in its absence, I could not live in a way that makes me want to keep on living. It’s a trade-off to which I have given much thought.

Pachy's avatar

I have it, and it’s simply grand.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

I don’t think I could do it. I’m so sensitive to many things I actually prefer to live in solitude without community. I do not like living in the city and I would prefer to live in the country but right now with my mother it’s not feasible.

I’m actually a lot better away from people. I get so wound up feeling emotion for almost anything it’s better if I’m away and desensitizing myself from things around me and that includes the outside world.

I am jealous though I wish I could just have normal thoughts and not disabled ones, I think if I did I might like it.

burntbonez's avatar

My life is relatively uncomplicated at the moment. I could do with another complication or two.

CWOTUS's avatar

You’d like Drinking the Rain by Alix Kates Shulman. You can buy used copies for under $5 (shipping included) from various places. It’s an easy, eye-opening and very enjoyable read.

I know that you’ll enjoy it.

JLeslie's avatar

You might be interested in this Q asked a few days ago about the Amish.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I never had a simple life and I never wanted something else.

josie's avatar

After war and fear, and after dumping my worthless ex wife and paying her off, my life is beautifully simple. Could not ask for anything better. Should have realized the value of it a long time ago.
The reason the Amish can do it, and you and I occasionally find it difficult is because for them it is totally voluntary. Most of us are forced to live with a sense of “community”- supported by confiscated tax dollars and justified by guilt tripping from politicians. The exact opposite of simplicity. But I would not fit in with the Amish. So I am stuck with defining simplicity as a compromised notion.

filmfann's avatar

Absolutely. A farmers troubles are his own.

rooeytoo's avatar

A simple life is good, I keep mine uncomplicated for just that reason. The amish and their despicable treatment of animals can keep their life.

Gabby101's avatar

I feel that if we went back to single income households, life would be simpler. There is so much work involved with running a house and raising a family, I can’t help but believe that if someone in the family had that as their first priority (maybe a part-time job) life would be simpler and there would be more sense of community because people would have more time for socializing. My husband and I are tired when we get home from work and cleaning/cooking when we get home, takes whatever energy we have left. I haven’t been working for the last three months and our lives have been a lot easier because I have plenty of time to cook and take care of administrative stuff. If only we could afford it long-term!!

burntbonez's avatar

@Gabby101 “If only we could afford it long-term!!” Obviously we can’t just snap our fingers and make ourselves richer. That’s why people don’t have single-income households. No one can afford it. Or few can afford it. And it takes a lot out of the person who is the wage earner for the family.

JLeslie's avatar

@Gabby101 I totally agree. Especially in America. I don’t know about other countries, but here couples will exhaust themselves and argue over chores at home. If both people want to work, and the money is not completely necessary, and the couple fights about cleaning, or has no energy for fun, then they should get a maid. Most Americans don’t think of maids as something for the middle class, they see it as a huge luxury. But, other countries it is factored into expenses like gas for the car and utility bills for the house.

Shippy's avatar

@Jeruba Do you know where I can find out more about this lifestyle?

Jeruba's avatar

@Shippy, there are countless sources of information about Zen. One excellent beginner’s book is Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, by Suzuki-roshi. (It’s not just for beginners. He says we need to keep our beginner’s mind as we go on with practice.) Another is What the Buddha Taught, by Walpola Rahula.

There are also zendos, sitting groups, websites, recordings, workshops and retreats, etc., etc.

But they aren’t about prescribing a lifestyle. They’re about practicing mindfulness. How you translate this into a lifestyle is up to you.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I think I’d enjoy it for a week or two, like a vacation getaway, but you can totally get that sense of community in my small town. Offer your neighbor extra’s when you bake, they offer you extra garden produce, it goes from there and is very nice.

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