I’ve logged more experience than most with simplicity and the complexity you discover inside simplicity, minimalism and asocial behavior, endurance and landscape.
Here is the truth: I think some deep wisdom inside me (a) sensed the stress, (b) was terrified for me, and (c) gave me something new and hard to focus on in order to prevent me from lapsing into a despair coma — and also to keep me from having a jelly jar of wine in my hand.
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Barbara Ehrenreich is a political essayist, social critic, and author or co-author of twelve books, including For Her Own Good: 150 Years of the Experts’ Advice to Women (Anchor) and Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War (Henry Holt). She has written for Ms., Harper’s, the Nation, the Progressive, the New Republic, Atlantic Monthly, and the New York Times Magazine. She lives and writes near Key West, Florida.
One of the steps AA asks of recovering alcoholics is to make “a searching and fearless moral inventory” of themselves, and now, alone in my motel room, I find myself fairly obsessed with my stuff: how much of it there is and how long it will last. I have my laptop and a suitcase containing T-shirts, jeans, and khakis, three long-sleeved shirts, one pair of shorts, vitamins, and an assortment of toiletries. I have a tote bag stuffed with books, which will, along with the hiking boots I have brought for weekends, turn out to be the most useless items in my inventory.