Sunday, January 3, 2010

In the Quest for a Simpler Life

There were a number of reasons that influenced our decision to take an extended sabbatical. Among them was the desire to simplify and escape the “Hurry, Hurry, Ding, Ding” that permeated our lives. So after a little over a year, I find myself reflecting on this grand adventure.

In many ways, moving to Spain was like stepping back into the 1950’s. This came with its own set of joys, frustrations, and some interesting insights. So let’s suppose for a moment that you have a basic home (running water, basic kitchen appliances, and basic climate control, circa 1950 USA), food and medical insurance. What else do you require to be happy? What are you willing to live without in order to have a quieter life? Or perhaps, the better question is: What is really important to you?

Of course, what is important is different for everyone. For Scott, it is his piano. For me, the list is a little longer… the availability of entertainment (books and an occasional movie) in my native language, a washing machine and a clothes dryer. I would add that this adventure would be almost impossible without a computer and DSL connection – only because I use them manage our finances while we are abroad and to stay connected to friends and family back home. In the states, I am sure that I would find the lack of a computer liberating on many levels. I miss my glass studio, but faced with the choice between “playing with glass” or a vacation, the vacation wins without a second thought. So add vacations to my list as well. My response left me stunned. I had expected to miss having a car. But I find that I enjoy the walking, and the weight loss that comes with it. The missing dishwasher doesn’t faze me at all… Scott does the dishes!

Last February, my brother and sister-in law kindly drove to Portland and packed up all our household belongings and put everything into storage. This event gave our sabbatical in Spain a finality that it had not had before. Suddenly, we were completely cut off from the majority of our stuff. But at the same time, this was strangely liberating. Things are nice, but often owning them steals your time, money and in many ways, your life. You end up working longer hours, not to support your family, but to support your stuff. It is really kind of sad.

After 15 months without our things, and not really missing them, intelligent people would toss the boxes without even opening them… Yeah… Easier said than done.

1 comment:

Dimple said...

Hi Tonya,
You have written some thought provoking ideas; not necessarily new, but persistent and requiring answers.
I hope you are well!