For five weeks during the fall quarter, I spent my lunch time with like-minded people trying to see if we could simplify our lives. The group was a supportive means to change my thinking about the usual nine to five work experience. Work-life balance, money, alternative/organic methods of eating, and commuting were topics of deep discussion. I walked away each session feeling like there was a chance and a way to achieve a smoother, easier and more stress-free life. Each of us in the group was coming from a different walk of life, but all of us wanted the same things: more time to reflect peacefully and to slow down!
One of my biggest challenges that I still face after attending the lunch sessions is putting my phone away and taking "secular Sabbath retreats," as our text, Voluntary Simplicity references. One session allowed me to reflect and focus on our urge to respond instantly to everyone and everything around us. Whether it's a text message, the constant beeping of our emails, a friend's call-I feel pressure to respond within a moment's notice. It's amazing how we too often feel a comfort knowing that someone has texted us or has emailed us. It stays on our minds, lingering until we open the message only to reveal an advertisement.
Being still in my 20s, I have noticed a shift in how we communicate with each other. Students often don't look at each other, walk around with buds in their ears listening to music and are totally oblivious to the world around them. Our group concluded that we have an emerging lonely world because we've lost the social skills to talk to each other.
I highly recommend a course like this even if you are unable to walk away and stick to a simplified life. It will at least allow you to take the hour we are given at Seattle University and make some time for yourself and others, and to reflect on the life you are currently living.
SIGN UP NOW: The discussion course for winter quarter is "The Ways to a Healthier Life and Community." Topics include: the roots of Western medicine and how it has evolved in an industrial society, avoiding toxins in foods, detoxifying your home, making your community healthier, how our consumer culture shapes our beliefs, and how living healthy creates a healthy planet. This free, six-week course for faculty and staff meets one hour a week between Feb. 4 and March 15. Participants will be in one of several groups meeting on campus during the lunch hour or after work. To register, e-mail Karen Price in the Office for Sustainability by Monday, Jan. 21 with the days and times you can meet.
Kate Spoor is the administration assistant in the International Student Center.