There’s just something about the simple life. We can’t pretend otherwise. It’s not about fearing the worst. About thinking society as we know it will collapse. About feeling the need to hoard and secure our food reserves. About going to bed with an unsettledness and wondering what the world will look like tomorrow. It’s not about that at all.
But there’s just something about the simple life, you guys. The way it makes you appreciate stuff. The way it makes you stay present. The way it makes you care for your belongings and reconsider your consumption behaviors. The way it makes you sleep so well at night.
The simple life is grounding, I guess. And during worrying times, such as the ones we’re going through currently, the simple life is ever more appealing. Upstairs, plants are growing steadily under grow lights, just waiting to be let loose. In the little greenhouse, another batch is sitting patiently, already graduated from the nursery but yet too small to conquer the real world. And in the ground, hundreds of seeds are ready to sprout as soon as the weather allows for them to. Carrots, parsnips, dill and parsley. Spinach en masse.
Eggplant (a new vegetable for us this year), growing on the window sill.
I never could have imagined that Mike and I would turn into the people we have turned into. Or perhaps that’s not true at all. We did, after all, decide to move here in the first place. We did in fact say goodbye to late night takeout meals, an apartment (albeit tiny) in a trendy neighborhood in a big city and full-time jobs. Friends and family kept asking us “but how are you going to deal with the transition?” and we just said “well, the transition is what we’re in it for”.
As the introverts as we are, I think what we longed for the most though was the quiet. We need and love – heck crave – quietness and serenity. It’s certainly not hard to understand why we both feel like two completely different people now, compared to a few years back, when we still lived our hectic city lives. We get stressed when there’s too much going on. Too many interactions with other people. Too loud of a scene. Too little time and space for rest and reflection. And there we were, encapsulated by interactions, noise and no time for anything but the spinning hamster wheel.
“As the introverts as we are, I think what we longed for the most though was the quiet.”
I find it difficult to describe our time in New York fairly, though. Because while we both did struggle with self-management and finding meaning, we also have endless happy memories we look back at so fondly today. The late night ice cream hunts. The trips to the farmers market. The feeling of living in such a cool, bustling place. The expensive yet fantastic restaurant experiences. The views and the street scenes, unlike anywhere else in the world. The fact that we met there. Met there, fell in love and laid down the foundation of our relationship.
Sometimes people wonder how we can deal with spending (or want to spend, for that matter) all of our time together. It’s always hard to give an answer that doesn’t sound too made up or too pretentious. The honest answer is that we both love it, so there’s isn’t any dealing at all. Mike is my best friend, and I think I dare say I’m his. Of course we disagree upon things sometimes, but the bottomline is this one: we’ve found in each other the person we want to be with. Not just for a few hours every night after work, but preferably all the time.
The sun is setting later every evening now (7:45 pm here).
The funny thing is that we both thought of ourselves as very much solitary characters until we met. Or, we still do. With the exception of each other. We both came from rather disastrous relationships (to put it mildly) and couldn’t ever picture ourselves living with someone that wouldn’t also drive us a little crazy at the same time. Someone we wouldn’t want to be away from every so often. We have an innate need for peace and quiet to reset and recharge, and only knew of that as something you needed to be alone for. Turned out we could get that together, without being apart. And that was a big deal.
So I guess it isn’t surprising that we’re here now, living the life we’re living. A life where the safety net consists of homegrown food and low costs of living. Where a lost work gig or two won’t mean our lives will fall apart like a house of cards. Where we spend our time planting seeds, foraging mushrooms, picking berries and stocking our freezers as best we can. Where we mend what needs to be mended, build what we need from material that we have on hand and care for our house with much love and attention.
Sometimes I think about the hourly rate some of our activities would translate into, had we for example purchased all the frozen berries instead of picked them ourselves, or had we hired someone to do a task we were stubborn enough to struggle through ourselves in twice the amount of time. You know, that thought of is it financially defendable to do all of this ourselves? The simple answer is no, in many cases it’s not. But the point is that profit margin isn’t the only parameter that counts. What if we’re having the time of our lives as we pick those berries? What if it makes our hearts sing when we care for those tomato plants hour after hour? That matters too, and perhaps even more than anything else. How about we rate what we do and how we spend our time based on other variables than just the one of financial gain or loss?
“But the point is that profit margin isn’t the only parameter that counts. What if we’re having the time of our lives as we pick those berries?”
So we love it, the simple life. And we do so a little extra right now. Whether the Corona crisis or something else instills in you a desire to dip your toes into the waters of downshifting and self-sufficiency, we’d be the first ones to cheer you on as you embark on your very own journey. The quiet life in the countryside is thankfully available to all of us, in one way or another, if you’re just willing to prioritize and roll up your sleeves a bit.
I always thought meaning would come from academic achievements and public validation. Little did I know pottering around a garden, watching bees and birds thrive, running through the woods and stocking a pantry full of homegrown food would be the real deal. For each day that passes, I believe more and more the most important question to answer in life is how would you live if no one was watching? Like this, our answer would go. Just like this.
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– Sophia & Michael