I'm just back from a trip out to the outer western suburbs of Sydney, almost to edge of the map (where the dragons are). My boss and I went out to give a presentation to a new client who owns a string of fashion stores around Australia. The presentation itself went well and we drove back in quite a relaxed mood.
On the way back to the city my boss and I were chatting about life in general, and it tipped over into a weirdly parental conversation. Keep in mind that my boss is only about 5 years my senior, but her life involves kids, her own business and probably at least one mortgage. At one point she said "Maybe it's time to grow up", not in a nasty way, but in the context of taking on responsibilities.
It sort of got me to thinking about how other people might view my lifestyle. I'm single, don't own a house or car, have only small debts, no pets or kids... I certainly do feel like I'm a grown up, but I guess in many ways I have engineered my life so I can live in permanent adolescence. That is, if you take these sorts of responsibilities as signs of adulthood.
I'm interested in simplifying my life, not getting too attached to things, and in giving myself some mental 'room to move'. I think it's interesting that once a journalist asked one of the most senior Lamas of my Buddhist order for one piece of advice that would be of use to readers. I think he was expecting something profound and mystical. The Lama's answer was "Simplify your life."
It sounds easy and simple, but when it is so easy to get caught up in doing more, having more, keeping up, filling up time with distractions... it actually takes quite a bit of effort and resolve. At least, that's my take on it.
I think the Lama was skillful in that his statement was the simplest way of saying a whole lot of things. That we should put our concentration into what is really important. To stop getting so caught up in ego, in acquiring things, in fearing that we will lose what we have, or not get what we want (or get what we don't want), or thinking that things are permanent, and that we are permanent.
Anyway, I'm not advocating throwing everything away but I do think that being too attached mentally to all this stuff just brings stress and anxiety. I think it's interesting to consider the mental freedom that comes from having simplified your life.