I’m really not supposed to be chatting with you right now.
If my schedule, the one I set up last night before the snowstorm, were in place, I would be 70 miles away at Costco, shopping. The monthly hunt and gather of food at the grocery store is one I plan with anticipation, not the least because Costco always features an array of samples. One week they had two kinds of chicken and chocolate chip cookies.
But, because there is fresh snow on the highways (I’m not going to say how much, or how little, because all of the people in Buffalo, New York will snort at my driving timidity), I am adjusting my schedule to accommodate life’s little inconveniences. That’s why I’m sitting here with you, talking about two kinds of chicken and chocolate chip cookies.
(I’m out of both, incidentally, which would have been taken care of if there were not an undisclosed amount of fresh snow on the highways. We will have to get by on salmon fillets and Snickerdoodles.)
A Life of Stress
One aspect of living in a highly materialistic, stress-inducing, performance-requiring culture is that we make lists, adhere to schedules, and run our life with a rigid efficiency that shows the world how organized and productive we are, as if we manufactured widgets or something.
We’re not called an Industrial Society for nothing (and even though we’re technically post-Industrial, the lessons learned — that we run our lives like machines, not humans — are deeply ingrained), and many of us approach each day with the goal that we’re going to get things done, by golly, and a lot of them. We’ve got a list to check off.
But once you start down the road of the simple life, you quickly learn that life is not predictable, and you are not a machine. Snowstorms happen. People wander in and out of your existence, needing things. You wake up tired and lethargic. Costco becomes an errand for another day.
Within the world of work, rigidity is a way of life, and when the boss is a butt, there’s not much that we can do about it. But even within the confines of the cubicle, humanity happens, and while a manager may berate us for a lapse in perfection, we don’t have to accept their words, or their attitude, into our hearts.
We are not failures because of the unexpected turns and twists of life. We are human beings, living the life that we have been given, and when circumstances are different than what we thought they would be, the smartest thing to do — and as post-Industrialists we pride ourselves on being smart — is to stop, review the situation, and be willing to make changes that make sense for us and our day.
Adapt, or Find Another Pond
The animal world does this all the time, and you don’t have to believe in Evolution (I don’t) to see that the creatures that adapt, are the creatures that survive. If you’re a frog in a pond and the pond dries up, you either find another pond or learn how to live with less water, that is, if you want to remain alive. If you’re a human being and the electricity is out for God knows how long and your only means of cooking is an electric range, you’ll probably have sandwiches tonight as opposed to steaks. But it will still seem romantic because you’ll be eating by candlelight.
Living the simple life is a process, and part of the process is approaching each day with a creative, open attitude, treating problems like challenges and disappointments like puzzles. Once you recognize, and accept, that life down here isn’t perfect and changes to our schedule are going to happen, you can smile, even if you’re doing it through pain.
Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes, where I address financial health and simple living on Fridays. If you are seeking the simple life, I encourage you to look at my book, Live Happily on Less: 52 Ways to Renovate Your Life and Lifestyle.
If you’re a Christian, or interested in Christianity, please join me at my BeliefNet blog, Commonsense Christianity. Recent posts there include