One of the trends that Stephen and I have been noticing on our return to the civilized world – the world where most people have actual beds to sleep in and showering is a daily activity – is how complicated everybody’s lives are.
On our trip, life was blissfully simple. The biggest daily tragedies were a few flat tires, and the only challenges we had to worry about were where to sleep and what to eat.
Though there are mind-achingly complex issues surrounding poverty, education, politics, and the environment in the eastern countries we visited, the people we encountered tended to lead simple lives.
They focus their energies on family, friends, and earning a living. Not an extravagant 90-hour-work-week kind of living, just a simple living that could pay for their necessities and help raise their children.
A Vortex Of Stress
In the circles we’ve been travelling in the west, most people meet these basics requirements without much thought. No one we know is too worried about how they’ll pay for dinner or that they won’t be able to afford to send their kids to school.
That should make our lives life easier, right? We should experience far less stress because we live in a part of the world where there is a mandated minimum wage, unemployment insurance, and access to pretty decent jobs for most people.
But of course, just the opposite is true. Instead of just hanging out in a hammock and watching the clouds go by during our free time (like people in Cambodia do), we make up things to worry about.
What colour white should I paint my walls?
Where can I store the 87 pairs of shoes I never wear?
Do I need to camp out overnight to get the new iPhone on release day?
We have so much stuff that we spend as much money and time trying to organize and store it all as we did to buy it in the first place. And then, when our homes are too cluttered, we pay someone to come take all our junk away, just to make room for something new.
And women, dammit, we worry way too much about getting just the right shade of nail polish and what kind of moisturizer to buy.
I’m absolutely not immune to this behaviour. I spent a whole whack of time* earlier this month researching (obsessing) about cars, trying to figure out which one is best for my needs, most environmentally friendly, and most budget-friendly.
(*Is this is a Canadian expression? I think it might be.)
In reality, I don’t really need a car, so the answer to all the above questions is “no car”. But it sure will be nice to have when the rainy winter comes.
What If We Just Stop?
So here’s what I’ve been thinking.
What if we – and right now I’m talking about the My Five Acres we, just us guys who read this blog – what if we stopped worrying about all the stupid stuff in our lives? What if we focussed on family and friends and food. What if, once these crucial needs are met, we just stopped there?
What if we didn’t even consider getting bigger and bigger houses, all the latest gadgets, flashy cars, and expensive meals out? What if we just wiped frivolous worrying right out of our minds?
(I know, easier said than done.)
But we could try. At the very least, we might make ourselves a little happier, right? A little more free?
What if we like this feeling of freedom, and we just let more and more crap fall by the wayside?
With all our extra time and happiness, we might even start to feel like doing something amazing. Like helping those people who struggle to feed their families, or who don’t have access to drinking water, or who can’t afford education.
My mantra for 2015 was going to be “Be Bold”. But I’ve upgraded it. Now it’s a little more complicated, but a little simpler, too.
Be Bold; Live Simply
What are you worried about right now? Is it something that you could just let go? How would it feel to let it blow away on the wind? Go ahead and give it a try. ♥
Hi, I’m Jane, founder and chief blogger on My Five Acres. I’ve lived in six countries and have camped, biked, trekked, kayaked, and explored in 50! At My Five Acres, our mission is to inspire you to live your most adventurous life and help you to travel more and more mindfully.