08 October 2012

the "simple" life

In general I hear this phrase, I read it on blogs and in magazine articles and hear it mentioned over wine and cheese at dinner parties.  When I reflect on this phrase though it conjures up a bunch of unrealistic imagery of life and what we think it could look like.

For example, we think- wouldn't it be nice to "return" to a simpler way of life where we made our own bread, grew our own food, knew the farmers we got our produce from and knew how the animals were treated when we purchased our meat.  We think wouldn't it be nice to make our own curtains, clothes and homemade pie crusts.  Wouldn't it be nice to live in a smaller house, get rid of clutter and focus on the big things and not get bogged down with life.

But the fact is, it is nearly impossible to do this when you live in a modern society.

Reality hits us and we realize: we have to work all day and don't have time to sew our own curtains nor does it save any money or make anything "simple" when you have to make them yourself.  Going to the farmers market is a treat and a fun outing but it is simply more expensive and cannot always accomplish all of your shopping goals, therefore adding one more thing to your list of "to dos."

I recently read a short article by Dylan Tomine titled "The Simple Life" in the most recent Patagonia Catalogue (of all places).  I absolutely loved this article because he talks about how he and his wife were going to move to Central America and home school their kids, using the outdoors as a backdrop.  What happened instead though was that he and his wife ended up buying a blueberry farm in Washington.  At first everything seemed idyllic and beautiful, the blueberries were in full season, the weather was beautiful and people were there picking fruit daily.  Their kids handed out baskets and showed people how to pick the warm sun-kissed berries.  Then (to quote Tomine) "the season ended and the real work started.....the learning curve seems to steep most of the time and our day to day has turned into a crazed juggling act...turns out the simple life is pretty damn complicated."

Finally, someone said it!  At the end of the day, farm life, simpler times and a way of life that should be stripped down when all is said and done is complicated!  But he does bring a tear to my eye when he mentions why he and his wife chose to do what they are doing: "we'll have frost by morning...winter is coming... from the upper field I can hear Skyla and Weston laughing as they ride the empty wagon down the compost pile for another load.  I shiver and pull my collar up, knowing: this is our big adventure.  Right here at home."

And these words echo warmly in my heart when I think of my last post.  We try to do our best each and every day.  Sometimes we succeed.  Sometimes we fail.  Sometimes we just try to make the most of a moment because life is busy, complicated and hard.  We try to take that moment of laughter, that moment of echoed joy in a field, the moment a warm blueberry hits your lips and drizzles down your lips, the moment we realize we cannot prepare for life but we must live it; simple or not- this is life and we must embrace all that we can so that we don't miss anything!  There is no simple life as far as I'm concerned but the message is simple to me: love God, love others and capture every moment that allows us to truly do just that.

[Dylan Tomine's new book: Closer to the Ground 
about learning to share his love of naure with his children- available through patagonia.com/books]

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