Seven months. In some ways it seems like it’s been seven years since we arrived back in the USA; in other ways seven days. Tomorrow, on our seven month anniversary of arriving in our home country, we’ll be moving into our house.
We’ve been working frantically trying to get the house ready, but it’s not anywhere close. We finally decided we would move in as soon as we had a toilet. Everything else was a luxury. Including a shower.
So it is that we’ll soon leave our little casa de nada (house of nothing) and move into a real house, albeit one without a shower. We’ll unpack the barn and have real chairs to sit in and real beds to sleep in. I’ll have a real kitchen to cook in and we’ll have real dishes to eat out of rather than the recycled yogurt containers we’ve been using for seven months.
And I’ll have a washing machine.
I’m cracking up over my excitement about a washing machine. It wasn’t all that long ago that I was amazed when I found a laundromat. It was magical to walk in, throw my clothes in a machine, push a button, and *poof* just like that, my clothes were clean. Each and every time I load our dirty clothes in the car and drive to the laundromat I’m reminded anew of that magic. And to think I’ll soon have a washing machine in my own little house.
I’m trying hard to maintain my sense of wonder and amazement at the simple things that add so much to my life.
Sometimes I find myself slipping into the commercialism so rampant in my society, but then I reach down, grab myself by the bootstraps, and yank myself back out.
The other day as I drove the boys to Boy Scouts, the road was closed. We were running late and were in a hurry to get to their meeting and, as I turned off the main road onto some small lane running through a residential neighborhood, I found myself getting frustrated. “Why now?” I fumed. “Why couldn’t they close the road somewhere else or sometime else when it doesn’t matter?”
But then I took a deep breath and thought back to our 400-mile detour in Bolivia. On bikes. FOUR HUNDRED MILES!
The road we had planned to take through the center of the country was closed due to a strike. Our options were limited, but the best included climbing up and over the Andes Mountains before dropping down into the Amazon basin. From there we turned right and headed into Argentina. Our detour took us a couple weeks of cycling.
And I got upset about a mile? In a car? What’s wrong with me? Have I changed that much in seven months?
My friend Justin from The Great Family Escape was talking the other day about how hard it is to escape the corporate influence in the USA.
“I want to live without the influence of all this stuff and be able to see the world as it’s meant to be seen – AD FREE! For me, the only way to find out what I can live without is to obviously live without it. And the only way I think I can do that successfully or fully, is to get myself and my family away from all this crap. To move our lives away from the maddening crowd and relearn life.”
Do we really need to get away from the ads and corporate influence? Or can we simply make conscious decisions to live life more simply?
I admit I’m struggling with that idea. I walk into K-Mart to buy dish soap and see the gorgeous crystal bracelet sitting there and immediately fall into that “must have” trap. Or I go to the bead store to buy a simple finding for something I’m making and fall in love with sparkly Czech beads.
I’m trying to keep my life simple. I don’t necessarily want it as simple as it was on the road, but I don’t need the excesses that most Americans consider essential.
I love having a frying pan in addition to my pot and a chair to sit on rather than hoping for a stump. I love having more than two sets of clothing and more than one pair of shoes. It’s really nice to have a lamp to use while reading in bed rather than having to hold a tiny little penlight. I like having a consistent source of hot water. Heck – I enjoy having water!
I think the answer to dealing with American consumerism comes down to making conscious decisions and living intentionally.
Whatever I buy now I truly evaluate: will this item add value to my life or am I buying it simply to spend money. If it’s something that will truly make me happy for whatever reason, then I have no problem buying it. If not, I pass it by.
As I look around my casa de nada, I’m surprised to see how full it is. When we arrived here seven months ago we arrived with only the contents of our panniers. Now, we’ve got significantly more than that. I like to think we’ve got enough.
It’s been seven months – 210 days. In many ways I’m scared to see how much “stuff” I will have amassed by one year. How much of an impact will the American corporate influence have on me?
I truly hope I will come back here in five months and report that we’re still living simply. And I hope I still marvel at my washing machine each and every time I put a load of clothes in it.
***Are you making conscious decisions and living intentionally?***