The Simplicity

A decade ago, upon my return from the monastery, I rented a studio apartment in the city in which my entire collection of furniture consisted of little more than a writing desk, two folding chairs, and a small collapsable table. I slept on a thin, foam-rubber mat onto which I would unroll my sleeping bag and place my pillow. In the morning, I would rise early and neatly tuck the three items back away into the unit’s one-and-only closet. I would then brew some coffee and watch the day break to the north outside my window.

Midmorning, seeing that I had neither internet service nor a smart phone, I would walk the mile or so to the public library and work on whatever freelance graphic or website design project I had going on at the time. At around noon and again in the early evening, I would retrace my steps home and prepare a modest vegetarian meal that I would eat in silence. Most nights, not owning a television, I would sit at my desk, insert a DVD into my laptop, and enjoy a movie I had checked out from the library earlier in the day.

As romantic as this all feels to me now in retrospect, my nostalgia is tempered by the fact that it was predominantly a year of challenging transition. Nevertheless, there was something about it that I absolutely loved: the simplicity. On one occasion, a good friend of mine, upon stepping through the door and looking around for the first time, politely inquired, “Where’s all your stuff?” To which I responded with a sincere, albeit countercultural, sense of pride, “This is it.”