There are many benefits to living a simpler life... but perhaps, in our modern society, time is the biggest. I remember what it used to be like for me, back in my full time wage slave days. I never felt I had enough time. What a shock it was, going from university life (tons of "free" time) to working. My first summer at IBM, I was severely depressed. I woke at 6:30 am. Commuted an hour to two hours (depending on traffic). Worked 8+ hour days (though "work" is an inaccurate word.. I was bored out of my fucking mind). I arrived home at 6/7pm... exhausted. Exhausted by boredom. Exhausted by the stressful commute.
I had two measly days, Sat & Sun, that were "mine". As each week went by, my sense of desperation grew. I felt enslaved. I couldnt imagine living an entire adult life in that way. The seeds of my hobopoet lifestyle were born then. I knew I had to find a better way. It took me many years to find the (obvious) solution.
And now? Occasionally I bitch about my 20 hour workweek. Yet I love the work I do... and most days have a great time doing it. My commute? 5 minutes walking... for a total of 10 minutes a day. I work Monday-Thursday... and so have a three day weekend. Even better, Im not only a part time worker... I am also temporary.. in the sense that I usually alternate working for a few years.. then taking a year or more off.
Compared to my wage slave days, I have plenty of time. I spend hours loafing in coffee shops. I read like crazy. I have plenty of time for this blog AND my other blog. I go to the gym 1-2 hours a day.. sometimes to workout.. often just to sit in the sauna and hot tub. I often go for long walks in the city. In fact, I never use the bus system because Im rarely in a hurry. The city is only 7x7 miles long.. so I pretty much walk everywhere (occasionally taking the subway to visit friends who live south of Mission).
Im a bit of an indy movie buff... and have plenty of time for renting or going to movies. When I want to travel, I rarely take a typical American "vacation"... ie. a pitiful two weeks. Usually I quit my current job and travel for 2 months at minimum.... longer if I can afford it.
By living a simple life day to day, I not only have time for all these pursuits... I have enough money as well.
Big noble causes are great. I wholeheartedly agree with Thoreau's big picture principles. I admire people who live simply for spiritual or environmental reasons.
But truth be told... the selfish reasons are most compelling to me. By living simpler, Im having a lot more fun in my life. Im more relaxed. Im more intellectually stimulated. I have the time to follow my bliss... anywhere it takes me. I have more mastery over my own life.
Simplicity IS a noble principle. But its also a damn practical strategy for greater freedom and happiness.