I was struck by the motto of the E.L. Schumacher Society, SIMPLE IS BEAUTIFUL.  A three word sentence that in itself is simple. I subconsciously adopted this concept decades ago.  Since then, I have found ways to practice it. I try to disregard complicated things. I struggle with computer programs, even the simplest ones. Microsoft Word has hundreds of “windows” I click on a few and quickly become discouraged when I call up websites whose first page offers way too many avenues to travel.

 

I own only one time piece, my wrist watch. I only have to turn the hour hand one hour ahead or back. My cell phone does it automatically. Not having several clocks I don’t have to spend the time adjusting. This is an example of how simplifying gives me more leeway to economize and create more efficiency.

I do have a clock in my Honda Civic which my wife Nancy helps me change. My car is small and simple. It does have automatic windows. I have a stick shift transmission, air conditioning, a radio, and interior lights. Owning a car is not simple. The fees, the maintenance, the fuel, parking, dangerous drivers all complicate my life. You might ask, “How can you say you simplify when you own and drive a car?” I contradict myself as Walt Whitman said. I respond by using the car as efficiently as possible. Short trips are walking or bicycle trips.

 

Tiny is very “small.” My dictionary devotes 25 lines to the word “small” and only two for “tiny.” Tiny must be smaller because the dictionary says so. I saw a cartoon in The New Yorker Magazine in which a cat who has broken a precious Tang Dynasty vase talked of a dog and convinces it to leave the country. The artist has drawn small quotation-size marks on both sides of the dog’s tail. These four small lines confirm that indeed, “small is beautiful.” To be beautiful, a thing need not be big. Small is a lifestyle. It flies in the face of the grandiose. A clever politician knows how to make a small comment loom large. Small is reasonable. It is not a credit card dept. Small is not about humility. It is about moderation.  Box stores encourage big. Big is not beautiful. Six Flags Recreation Resort in New Jersey is for those who want large entertainment thrills. Small are about board games at home, raising vegetables in a garden, taking nature walks, or having a picnic.  It is not about physical beauty. It is about balance, sustainability, and right relationship. McMansons with oceans of square footage are not beautiful. A house that fits with its environment and doesn’t use up a lot of space fits this idea.

 

Small is Earth friendly. People who practice small produce less garbage, eat healthier, don’t waste resources, use water carefully, use public transportation,

Use less electricity at home. They strive to be in right relationship with the planet.

People who try to live “small” are not consuming so as to have leftovers they don’t want, bring to the curb, and are carted away to a landfill ( garbage dump). Small is a point of view, tiny is about physical size. If I see a famous person like Obama far off in the distance, he looks small. But I know, this man is not small by any means.

 

Tom Stock

Tom Stock has been involved in the Long Island environmental and outdoor education community for decades.

He has published two books; THE NISSEQUOGUE RIVER: A JOURNEY and HIDDEN AGENDA; A POETRY JOURNEY.He has also published many essays and poems in such journals as the Long Island Forum and The Long Islander.