Simple Life

Simple is not always easy. Sometimes it takes a whole lot of thought and creativity to make things appear simple. In interior design, fabulous homes boast of minimalist designs that lay bare expensive open spaces. The craft of writing has for its pillars: simplicity, clarity, and brevity. Even the making of technical guidebooks or manuals requires the best efforts of writers to simplify the technical jargon for beginners to understand.

In life, contentment comes quicker to those who need less because they live simply. Contentment is a powerful thing. If you remove envy, lust, and jealousy from a person that have found happiness where he or she is, then you have a person with the most power in the room. That person will always be the least vulnerable among peers.

Perhaps because of the recent mid-term elections, this writer has been receiving queries about future political plans. I don’t have any, and am not ashamed to disclose such a non-strategic approach to the future. After saying this to a friend who lost in the 2013 local race, he sighed. “I need to look after my leaders and find a job that pays enough to meet so many obligations,” my stressed-out friend lamented. I listened and shared in his despair, as a good friend would.

Leading a simple life is the best weather protection there is. Strong winds won’t matter, if all you need to do is go home or at least send home the people under you so that they can be safe amidst the gathering of a storm. Complicating life means trying to push through with a million meetings, or keeping up pretenses that business comes first, and with it the routines that you are used to whether the sun is up or the rains pour.

My father, Ka Blas, was an admirer of simplicity. He wrote simply because his thoughts were clear. He loved his routine. In the afternoon, his calendar yields two hours of rest time spent at his favorite barbershop. In travels abroad, he spent hours sipping coffee while skimming through books offered by his favorite bookstore. He made an effort to simplify the complex in every speech he had to deliver.

As a result, we, his children, have learned to adhere to a simple life. My nieces and nephews take the MRT to work and are able to save more for doing so. My brother, Board Member Toti Ople, ran a no-frills re-election campaign, relying on traditional house-to-house visits and town hall meetings. My only daughter, Estelle, is striving to be financially independent, and thus can only be enticed to buy new clothes when her budget allows it.

I pity those who look down at people with simpler lives. I disagree wholeheartedly with parents who gift their children with gadgets too expensive to lose, and too engrossing to ignore. My daughter and I were having lunch at a hotel when we noticed a boy strapped in a high chair playing with an IPAD.

How sad, I thought. What memory would the boy have of that particular Sunday family lunch? He wasn’t even paying attention to his parents. A “yaya” was beside him, feeding him like an infant while he played a game, eyes down, fingers intensely touching the screen. Wouldn’t his memory chip be happier to store a lunch experience where his parents help him color a unicorn in a coloring book?

I am an advocate of a simple life. Strip your goals down to what’s doable, and work hard to make those dreams come true. Leave the complex to people in laboratories where formulas rule the day. Turn ambition to aspiration, and lead your life wanting certain things but still consciously aware of what truly matters the most.

Simple is never easy. Think of a family man who broke his vows and is now beholden to another paramour. Think of a businessman who needs to borrow more and more for a business that he seems to have control of less and less. Remember politicians that have gone by, still trying to redeem old glory and old riches through sinful schemes.

A couple with stable jobs, with little or no debts, and children who are able to go to school and do their homework have the power of simplicity working for them. They look at the moon at night and admire it from afar, not ever wanting to claim it solely for themselves.

Contentment comes with a simple life, and contentment is wealth that is unquantifiable in its power and fulfillment. Didn’t the Son of God lead a simple life, too? In the end, life is defined by the choices we make and how these choices affect the people we love the most. (Send comments to toots.ople@yahoo.com. Visit my blog at www.susanople.com)

Author: Susan Ople

Susan "Toots" Ople is the President of the Blas F. Ople Policy and Training Institute. She's an OFW and labor advocate based in the Philippines.

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  • Raul J. de Vera, Jr.

    “In life, contentment comes quicker to those who need less because they live simply. Contentment is a powerful thing. If you remove envy, lust, and jealousy from a person that have found happiness where he or she is, then you have a person with the most power in the room. That person will always be the least vulnerable among peers.”

    Beautifully spoken … I couldn’t think of better terms to put it. A reminder to everyone. Life may look good when you’ve got everything. Then again, maintaining such lifestyle give more problems than ever. Nothing beats a simple life. Thanks for this kapatid. What a morning upper cut!