I quit the rat race early. I sought the simple life. I was fine with low earnings & low expenses, as long I was able to lead the kind of life I wanted. I was fed up of the outsize influence of my corporate schedule, bosses, customers, colleagues & others on my daily routine, habits, life goals, outlook, morals, views, opinions & actions. I wasn’t after an austere or ascetic life, away from the maddening crowd, in the forests or hills. A simple life in the city was fine.
I prepared for it, in between jobs. Thought long and hard. Looked at how other people handled it. Tried to figure out the internal & external hurdles – monetary, psychological, emotional – I would have to face. I pulled out of the race gradually. After a decade, it is working well.
But the mind doesn’t easily accept a simple life. It is attracted to complexity. I didn’t fully realize this before.
A simple daily routine is not enough. The mind cannot easily manage boredom and idleness, even for a few hours. Staying still and doing nothing are anathema. I visualized a simple life with repetitive periods of inactivity and lethargy. The mind can’t stand it. It wants to fill it up with something. Even nonsensical acts or thoughts will do. The more complex the activity or thought, even though it may be of little use or sense, the more satisfied is the mind.
The most delicious complexity attraction to the mind is the modern external world with all its wondrous, varied & rapidly growing distractions.
Even when I consciously will my body to avoid acting & stay still, the mind runs away. It seems to have a life of its own. Not easy to control. I & my mind are the same, yet different. I can see it working sometimes, thinking hard about something. But, many times, it subconsciously, without my knowledge, keeps thinking about this & that, and sometimes, rarely, I realize quite later what its been up to. An idle mind is a busy workshop, devilish, divine or just mundane.
The mind is ceaseless & tireless. It wants me to go back to work, earn more money & status, spend more, consume more, want more, do more, think more. It asks innocently why don’t I startup a business? If I don’t like being bossed around, I can be the boss. Or, how about going on that world trip I have been thinking of for a long time? Buying some land and getting into farming is quite romantic, isn’t it? Why not just write that book or learn the piano? Join that social organization and do some good. Or think about that lady next door, isn’t she beautiful? Why don’t I call up some friends for a drink. Don’t sit idle. Do something. Think something.
It is difficult to do or think nothing. The mind doesn’t allow that. Even when the body is senile and incapable, a healthy mind roams freely. I like to think I do less and think more. Doing & thinking right is more important than doing & thinking more. Doing & thinking more often lead to doing & thinking wrong. Doing & thinking less is possibly even better. Taking that to the extreme, zero doing & thinking, of course, is the same as dying.
Controlling the body is easier. But the mind doesn’t give in easily. The mind may control & direct the body. I may control both my mind & body. Possibly I, my mind & body are all a single entity, though they seem separate at times. They work together. Maybe even control & influence each other. It’s quite fascinating.
When we are busy & engaged with the external world, the mind & its complexities are largely ignored. We don’t have time for it. The mind just works the way it does and we are fine with it. We don’t think too hard about why we think & act the way we think and act. It is not worth our time or satisfying.
When we disengage, even a little, from the external world, we get a glimpse of the workings of the mind. When we get some quiet & alone time from the busy lives we lead, we wonder why we think & act the way we do. But soon we are drawn back to the daily grind and the mind is forgotten. We just act. The autonomous and subconscious mind drives us. We don’t bother too much. Life goes on.
A simple life is possible. Anyone can attempt it. But the complex restless nature of the mind has to be dealt with.
It’s a simpler life now. But not quite simple.