Big Changes

Well, many of you know that I recently announced that in February 2008 I will retire my play, Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House–How I Survived the Ex-Gay Movement! I am still working out the gala finish to the play (and yes I am working on a DVD version of it although I want everyone to see it live).

I have experienced other changes too. My time at New England Yearly Meeting (an annual gathering of Quakers from New England) moved me deeply, particularly in my commitment to living a simply. I may even cancel one of my three cell phones!

The Testimony of Simplicity (via wikipedia)

The Testimony of Simplicity is the Quaker belief that a person ought to live his or her life simply in order to focus on what is most important and ignore or play down what is least important. It is the practice among Quakers (members of the Religious Society of Friends) of being more concerned with one’s inner condition than one’s outward appearance and with other people more than oneself. Friends believe that a person’s spiritual life and character are more important than the quantity of goods he possesses or his monetary worth. Friends also believe that one should use one’s resources, including money and time, deliberately in ways that are most likely to make life truly better for oneself and others.

Some ways I have incorporated the Testimony of Simplicity in my life include how I spend my money and time. Over the last few years I have tried to buy at least half of my clothing from charity shops like the Salvation Army. This not only saves money, but it also moves me away from the direct support of unfair labor practices for people in the clothing industry.

Part of the reason for being a vegan has to do with simplicity. A simple vegetable-based diet is cheaper and has less of an impact on the planet (and wonderfully healthy for most people). Lately I have been shopping for locally grown produce when possible. Some of you know that I have toyed with a raw vegan diet–delightfully simple, but not always practical when one travels a lot.

With travel I have made various changes and considerations, the biggest being when I got rid of my car in the summer of 2005. This has saved me money, helps the planet, connects me with my community and simplifies my life. When I have had a car, it was so easy to spend lots of time driving around doing unnecessary chores and shopping.

When I can, I walk. If I can’t walk, I take the bus. If I can’t take the bus, I try to share a ride with a friend or borrow a car. If I can’t borrow a car, I rent a car. If the distance is too far, I take the train. If the distance is too far for the train, I fly.

I adore the Internet, but I am also addicted to it. I do not have an Internet connection at home other than through my Treo 700P phone (which I will most likely dump soon). When I had the Internet at home, I spent far too much time on-line and got very little done for the time spent typing away. Keeping my house quiet and restful (some say boring), helps me live a simpler life. I haven’t had a TV for years. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE TV and watch it whenever I travel, but I want to keep my home TV-free.

Also, two years ago I downsized from a one-bedroom to a studio apartment. Not only is it cheaper but cozier. My rent is dirt cheap and includes utility, so it is something I don’t have to worry about. Having a small space is easier to clean and forces me to think about what I really need and don’t need. It feels yummy to give things away.

Diet, clothing, travel, home. I never thought I could simplify these things, but as I do, I find that I have more freedom, not less. Having less monthly expenses free me up to do more with less. Eating a simple diet keeps me healthy. Having a quiet simple home centers me and takes off lots of stress.

Recently I instituted a HUGE change. I do not know what initiated it, but suddenly out of blue I created a massive shift in my lifestyle. Of course it is one of those changes most people can’t see outwardly (the best changes are often that way). But this change affects my every move I make and one that I can sense every waking hour.

Yes, after four decades I have transitioned my undergarments from briefs to boxers (without the interim step of those clinging boxer-briefs that ride up your legs).

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

This post has 10 Comments

  1. Abby on August 15, 2007 at 4:11 pm Reply

    You’re an inspiration, Peterson. You KNOW what an internet junkie I am. I need to downsize my complex lifestyle. I’m with you on the produce thing. So great.

    Although that last change – DRASTIC!!

  2. Christine Bakke on August 15, 2007 at 4:29 pm Reply

    My friend, I must warn you about the slippery slope you are on.

    What next, commando?

  3. Ally on August 15, 2007 at 5:00 pm Reply

    As a former commando (okay, paratrooper, but close enough), I must urge you not to go there. I’ll beg if I must. If you insist, Christine and I may stage an intervention.

  4. Liadan on August 15, 2007 at 5:17 pm Reply

    As a female person, I must say I prefer my girl-boxers because they’re well-nigh wedgie-proof. Viva simplicity.

  5. Willie Hewes on August 15, 2007 at 6:47 pm Reply

    Oh, what I wouldn’t do for wedgie-proof underwear…

    Anyway, thanks for the comment on my blog, I’ve not been blogging much, actually. I’ve been keeping up with your blog, but I can’t get into the comments section anymore when I’m in work, so I can’t comment on your posts unless I remember to go back in the evening.

    Don’t think I’ve abandoned you! Living simply is a worthwhile ideal. I’m tempted to say I wouldn’t know where to start, but maybe I’ve already started. And being broke really helps you think about what you would really want to spend money on.

    Anyway, congratulations on your achieved level of simplicity. May it continue to do you good. (Don’t forget to blog though)

  6. ElliotManning on August 15, 2007 at 8:06 pm Reply

    That’s all so wonderful, Peterson. You are one of the healthiest people I know. 🙂

    Now, about your dirt cheap rent… Talk to me about that, buddy. I might be in the market soon, and I’d really like to know more about that rent situation.

  7. Liz Opp on August 15, 2007 at 9:53 pm Reply

    Hey, Peterson.

    It’s always good for me to read how other Friends are living into the Testimonies from a deeper, spiritually grounded place and not just because “it’s a good idea.”

    What concerns me as a Quaker about the Wikipedia entry, though, is that the excerpt you include in your post is more secular than faith-oriented. However, I see that the entry goes on to say:

    Early Friends believed that it was important to avoid fanciness in dress, speech, and material possessions, because those things tend to distract one from waiting on God’s personal guidance. (emphasis mine)

    Another take on the Testimony of Simplicity is from Northern Yearly Meeting”:

    “This testimony encourages Friends to consider obstacles in our lives which interfere with this Divine experience” (from the approved chapter in its Faith & Practice, still in process).

    And, since each of us have our own personal and direct relationship to God, it makes sense that we each must discern what are obstacles to our path to God… and then what to do about it!

    All that aside, even nonreligious people can reap the advantages–financial, healthwise, etc.–as you point to in your post.

    Blessings,
    Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

  8. PW on August 16, 2007 at 5:11 am Reply

    You are so bad…’sensing the change’. That deserves an internet thwap…THWAP.

    I think I know the reason though, it’s called..getting old…haha.

    Or it could be that you are (ahem) getting brave and if I have to explain what I mean then you really are getting old.

    In any case, the gay code of style indicates that a gay man’s boxers must pass the style test. Translated, there better be some patterns or colors on them boxers. Don’t let us down bro. 😀

    Hey, don’t give me that look I’m not the one discussing my underwear choices on the internet! (laughing) And in the same post with profound religious thoughts. What madness is this? 0:-)

    Hey, you know I luv ya…and yes I do understand your twisted sense of humor. 🙂

    And so does Christine…love that gal.

  9. Peterson Toscano on August 16, 2007 at 12:45 pm Reply

    pw, thanks for the THWAP. Now I truly feel loved. Profound Religious Thoughts and Undergarments–this is your one-stop shopping for the profound to the profane.

    Liz, thanks for deepening the testimony for us and bringing out the roots.

    Christien, commando? that is far too simple for me (and from what I hear downright dangerous!) Ally, no intervention needed. 🙂

    willie, here is hoping for wedgie-proof knickers! Who is giving you wedgies anyway????

    Elliot, I am the QUEEN of cheap rent. We should talk!

    abby, you ARE an internet junkie. I learn more about the web from a 2 minute visit to your site than I do from any of those inane tech mags out there.

  10. Michelle on August 16, 2007 at 8:32 pm Reply

    Thanks for the thoughts, Peterson. Your examples of simplicity are practical and inspiring. I’ve been working toward simplicity as well in terms of what I buy, what I support with the money I spend, and such. I’m a former vegan, current omnivore, but appreciate good vegetarian food when it’s available.

    The only diffence is that I’ve been realizing recently that an energy-efficient vehicle might simplifiy my life considerably. I live in a rural town with no public transport–just getting to a bus station requires that I impose upon someone for a 50-mile ride.

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