One of the things you learn, when you set out to live the simple life, is this:
It’s really simpler than you think.
You don’t need to join an Encouragement Group, or fill out a series of charts, or buy a box of Flash Cards for the Simple Life, to declutter your world. Many of the changes that you make are small, easy to comprehend, able to build upon one another, and low maintenance.
If you’re patient with yourself and allow time to do its work, you’ll find that the life you’re living one year from now is far simpler than the one you started with.
Let’s take eating, specifically, family meals. Regardless of the size of your family — and this could mean that there’s just one of you, since the cat died three weeks ago — eating is a regular activity that you can turn into something special.
Because we homeschooled, and because the Norwegian Artist, during his office years, worked out of our home, we were privileged to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner together, which I know is really, really unusual. But what is also becoming, unfortunately, more and more unusual, is people sitting down to eat — any meal, anytime during the week — together.
If there are school-aged children, there is inevitably an athletic game, or parent-teacher event, or evening program, that involves slapping something from the freezer into the microwave and eating over the sink.
Adults have community service meetings, extra work, basketball with the boys, or church related assemblages.
And regardless the age of the people in the home, there’s an increasing tendency for people to wander into the kitchen at disparate times, poke through the cupboards and fridge, and take whatever it is they’re eating into a separate room, where there’s generally a television or computer screen.
One thing eating meals together does is show us just how full our schedule is: if there is no point throughout the week when all of the members of the household can sit around a dining room table for twenty minutes and break bread together, then we may be just a bit too busy. And being a bit too busy is the opposite of living simply.
Being Busy: Part of Our Culture
Being busy — a major component of life in the United States — is not going to go away in a day, but just because this is a lamentable part of our cultural identity does not mean that we can’t make changes to simplify, and slow down, our lives.
Enter eating together — it’s low key, it’s relaxing, it doesn’t require extra gas for the car, it’s free, and it involves being around the people who mean the most to you: the members of your household. You catch up on what everyone is up to, you listen to problems and praises, you offer advice as needed and copious amounts of understanding and love. The more you do it, the more you want to do it, and at some point it becomes part of who you are:
“We eat together because we enjoy one another’s company.”
This week, see if you can find one meal on one day that everyone in the family sits down to share together (and if there’s just one of you, that’s fine: sit down with yourself — no TV — and enjoy the pleasure of your company). Notice the food, whatever it is, and take pleasure in how it tastes. If applicable, thank the person who prepared it, because food is a gift, and people who prepare it are gift givers.
Our favorite time together is Sunday morning, when we have no obligations or particular plans, and we spend two hours at the breakfast table: drinking tea, discussing world affairs, observing the weather outside, and just enjoying the sheer feeling of leisure. What on earth could be more satisfying to do than this?
Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. Fridays I write about financial health and simple living, which tend to go hand in hand. If you’ve read me for awhile, you know that I wrote a book on this, Live Happily on Less, which is a series of essays, like the one above, that address the simple, sustainable changes you can make to simplify your life and live better on the resources you have been given. (Paperback and digital at Amazon.com)
Enjoy the people in your life — as frustrating as they can be sometimes, they are far more valuable than any material possession you could possibly purchase.