Live Extravagantly. (Because Living Simply is Hogwash)

live extravagantly collageI’m going to tell you something about our Western culture. It is simple. It is easy. Hungry? Eat a snickers. Lonely? Social network. Bored? Flip the channels; or watch You Tube; or play Angry Birds. Everything is at our fingertips, and we don’t have to work hard for almost anything. We are a culture of open access and consumerism.

I, however, am a wily counter-culturist. I am not satisfied with living simply. I don’t want to roll over and sip a McDonalds fake-milkshake. I want to make life better. I want to grow. I want to learn. I want to give my spirit a chance to soar.

I want to live extravagantly.

The phrase “live simply” really irritates me. First of all, I usually see it, embellished and for sale at a ridiculous price, or on display in a gaudy and overcrowded room. The whole idea of selling people the phrase “live simply” goes against the entire point of the virtue. If you want to simplify, start by getting rid of The Stuff. And, if you need a token on your wall, turn over the junk mail envelope you were about to recycle, and scribble your virtuous reminder in your own handwriting, then stick it in plain sight with a thumbtack.

On a deeper note, the phrase “live simply” irritates me because it implies a sort of ease and abandon. As in: “If only we would shun all of the things that bind us, and could release ourselves to just live…to Live…to simply and poignantly LIVE.” I call rubbish. Anything worth having, doing or being in life isn’t easy; neither is it simple. I’m not satisfied with having a simple marriage; I want a passionate one where we dream together and build a wonderful life together while having lots and lots of sex. I’m not satisfied with having simple friendships; I want to bear my soul to people, to let them see how complex and ugly I can get, and to still know that they will stand by me when the going gets tough. I’m not satisfied with being a simple parent; I want to be extraordinary, to show my baby true compassion, humility and imagination.

I want to live extravagantly.

A tangible example of what I’m talking about is our food choices. If you want to be an automaton about nutrition, just eat whatever you’re advertised and don’t give it a second thought. If, however, you want to eat better food, you have to learn more about how to cook, or which restaurants to go to, or how to garden…and it’s a complicated process. Now, I love to eat fresh, local, in-season foods, but five years ago I couldn’t see past the Happy Meal and Hamburger Helper. I had to let myself get confused. I had to challenge myself to find different sources of food. I had to be willing to prepare foods I’d never even heard of before. But now I’m becoming an excellent cook, and this year I’m trying my hand at gardening, never satisfied to let inertia set in. I will grow. I will learn. I will throw my hat into the ever-complex and changing ring we call “life.”

And here’s the deeper truth: Life. Is. Complex. Whether or not you see that reality, it’s true. The food at the grocery store had a long road to get there, whether or not you are aware of it. The choices we make in relationships affect us and others in profound psychological and sociological ways. Therefore, we can tune out and waste our time away with simple, easy diversions that muffle our souls. Or, we grow, bit by bit, into colorful, imperfect, graceful, awkward beings. Let us fill ourselves with strength, beauty, fears and dreams. Let us pour out the cups of our hearts, leaving room for God to move in our deepest ditches. Let us romance and giggle and cry and forgive.

Let us all live a little more extravagantly.

By ekwetzel
2012-04-27

7 Responses to Live Extravagantly. (Because Living Simply is Hogwash)

  1. Sherri Erickson April 28, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

    Thank you for your straightfoward honestly about the effort it takes to live “on purpose”. It can be complicated and kicks our butts out of our comfort zones!

  2. Kristen April 29, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    I loved this post. So thoughtfully written & inspiring. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us Erin!

  3. Amanda May 2, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    that’s what i’m talking about! such a good post!

  4. Heather Cardenas July 5, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    First time I have browsed your blog & I have to say, I couldn’t have picked a better post to read. Beautifully written- and I get the message loud & clear. Looks like I will be stopping by more often. Thank you!

    • ekwetzel July 27, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

      Thank you so much! I’ve been cocooning lately, but I hope to do more posts like this going forward. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Becca July 18, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    Hello,
    Today was the first time I was fortunate enough to read your blog. I love the ideas you have on here! I also really agree with you that life is meant to be lived with purpose, passion, and conviction and that rarely is it easy. However, I did want to just bring up the point that “easy” and “simple” aren’t always interchangeable. Living simply doesn’t have to mean that you are living an easy life lacking passion. Mother Teresa has some words that reflect this idea, “Following Jesus is simple, but not easy. Love until it hurts, then love some more.” Anyway, just thought I would share. Thank you for your wonderful thoughts on topic!

    • ekwetzel July 27, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

      Yes! I love your observations! Sometimes the simplest things are, in fact, the most difficult. We can complicate our lives sometimes just to avoid doing the hard stuff.