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Thursday, August 05, 2010

Simplicity


Okay, I have to make a list of the things we are doing without since moving to Washington. We didn't move here with the intention of simplifying - it just sort of happened. And we're not necessarily trying to be non-mainstream, it's just sort of working out that way.

Here's what we don't have anymore a: TV, Microwave, Dishwasher, garbage disposal, and 2nd car.

Ok, so you're probably thinking, "So what? No big deal" but let me just unpack this list with you a bit.

1) TV - first of all, TV's take up so much room!!

There is so much sitting space in our new living room now that we're not trying to fit in a TV. I like how the area is no longer oriented around an entertainment center. It's oriented around company, hanging out, talking. It's no longer oriented around being entertained, but rather having interchanges.

Also on the TV topic, I actually haven't watched TV since my stint at the Monastery a few months ago.

Something happened to me that weekend and I haven't recovered, but this is an insanely good thing!! The first night in the monastery, I remember going to bed at a decent hour because there was no internet to surf, or TV to watch. I was tired anyway, worn out after two years of helping my husband get through grad school.

But when I laid down, I couldn't sleep. My mind kept racing. Images from TV shows and movies kept popping into my head. I kept tossing and turning, jerking out of sleep with these faces and camera angles, and zooming. And I remember thinking very clearly - watching TV isn't entertainment, it isn't "vegging", it's filling my head full of junk that I have to detox from in order to relax.

I didn't leave the monastery thinking I was going to quit watching TV. I just stopped. I have had zero desire to watch TV since that weekend. And so, it wasn't a hard thing for me to leave behind the TV when we moved, in fact, it has been freeing to leave it behind!

2) Microwave - Okay, this is a hard one.

My in-laws have lived without a microwave for many years because they believe that it is detrimental to their health. And I know the debate about the safety of microwaves has been raging for years. Even still, I have been heavily dependent on my microwaves over the years.

I mean, it's just so easy for leftovers, and for Noelle's lunches, because YES! I will confess, we have surrendered to the chicken nugget and peas that constitute an easy lunch.

In fact, we didn't mean to go without a microwave. We believed we would have a microwave provided for us in the apartment here at Western. We have an oven and a fridgerator, but no microwave.

And you know what I've discovered in the last seven days since we've been here? I haven't needed the microwave ONCE!! I can hardly believe it! I've been able to reheat everything in the oven, or just make it from scratch. I'm starting to wonder why I ever used a microwave to begin with?

How is it that we come to be so dependent on things we don't really need?

3) Dishwasher - I haven't had one for the duration of our marriage, but I was hoping perhaps we'd get one with this apartment. But there again, I haven't felt it's need since being here.

4) Garbage Disposal - Now, Dwayne will tell you that I have loved my garbage disposals in the past, a bit too much. I loved clearing off leftovers, putting them down the drain, and grinding them away. Bye-bye food, hello clean counters and refrigerator.

So, like the microwave, I've been a bit worried about going without a disposal. This has been a bit harder to adjust to because I have grown accustomed to left overs and wasting food, to cooking more food than my family can consume in a week and then just flushing it down my sink when it goes bad.

Ideally, we would compost, and this is something we are considering. The trick is figuring out where and how we would do this on a college campus. Not sure it's doable.

In the meantime, living without a garbage disposal is making me rethink the portions that I'm cooking, and the portions that I'm putting on our plates. It's making me think about reducing food down to zero. Not because we're throwing away the scraps, but because we are consuming all of it.

5) 2nd Car - Letting go of our second car has been the best part of our move here to Bellingham simply because of what it represents for our personal lives.

We are able to do this because Dwayne's job is (I am not kidding you, folks!!) right down the hall from our apartment. You step outside our door, walk past the main entry with it's winding wood steps on the right, and the student lounge with it's many windows on the left, and then you are there - at Dwayne's office.

His supervisors' offices are right below our apartment. So he only has to go outside and around the corner to get to "headquarters".

Noelle's preschool is less than 2 miles away, so we could walk there if we wanted. And as far as my travel needs? My work will mostly be on the internet for the next several months as I lead my on-line writing workshops, and work on my book.

Perhaps of all the simplification this one has been the most healing to my soul. I will admit that the expanse of LA was starting to wear me thin. The long stretches of freeway, the traffic, the disjointed way our lives crossed each other, Dwayne going to school, me commuting at times 2 hours to work, Noelle going to the babysitter's.

All these things have been brought together in the most healing of ways here in Bellingham simply because of proximity.

We are still far from family. And now far from all our dear friends in Los Angeles, but each morning I find myself waking up to a quiet relief - like I don't have to work so hard anymore to keep everything together.

And I think perhaps this is the beauty of simplicity? The paring away of that which we don't need, but have built our lives on, so that we can live within the reach of our own souls.

5 Comments:

Blogger mftmama said...

Hi Christin! I really resonate with your thoughts on simplicity! I think my heart longs for doing things simpler, but somehow, here in LA it's seems more difficult. Good for you that you have kind of a new start where you can more naturally do without! Glad you guys are settling in and would love to continue to stay in touch! Blessings!

3:44 PM  
Blogger Jocelyn said...

We recently bought a house that is 500 square feet smaller than our previous home. We gave up lots of junk- including a guest bedroom. We also gave up cable television and what I thought would be the greatest sacrifice- a garage. The truly amazing thing is now I realize how often my husband and I used to argue over keeping the garage clean. This "sacrifice" actually eliminated one of the greatest hot-spots in our marriage! It seems that the American ideal is to constantly own more and then buy a bigger place to put these things, but simplifying has made my life a whole lot easier.

4:25 PM  
Blogger Christin said...

Jocelyn - how ironic about your garage! But so true! Such a good example of how certain things that we're so attached to can make our lives even more complicated! Ah, we are complex beings, aren't we? :-) We get so used to things that in the end make our lives harder.

4:46 PM  
Blogger The Hall Family said...

We gave up TV 2 1/2 years ago and haven't missed it even for a day. We are constantly asked "How do you do it?" But, once you cut it out, you realize how much you gain. My kids don't get the "gimmees" at the store because they don't see commercials. There isn't the commercial hype about Christmas at our house, just focusing on giving to others. I could go on with all the benefits we've seen from getting rid of it, but I think you have realized that with moving to Washington.

3:15 PM  
Anonymous Eric Herron said...

Great analysis of practical simplicity. I really resonate with the benefits (and some difficulties) of doing w/o those things. Thanks for sharing!

2:31 PM  

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