Rediscovering the Joy of Simplicity

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COVID-19 has taken me back to the roots of my childhood. Back then we rarely went out to eat. Having a meal at a local cafeteria or Mexican restaurant was a big deal that only happened once in a blue moon. The rest of the time we ate at home where my mother was the master of performing miracles with only a few ingredients. Steak was too much for her budget just as it is for most of us now with rising prices. Her idea of a steak dinner was to purchase a fairly inexpensive round steak and pound it to death until it was incredibly tender. Dinner was a grand adventure made with whatever she could find on sale. She was the queen of creating delicious soups and big pots of yummy beans. So too have I become a homebody when it comes to eating. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve eaten at a restaurant in the past eighteen months. My desire for food from outside my home has greatly diminished. 

I’ve alway leaned toward introversion and my tendencies to prefer staying home with very small groups of people with whom I am totally comfortable have become more and more my cup of tea. I have actually enjoyed not having to rush around meeting the demands of a very full schedule. Having no special plans is rather nice, and when I do get an invitation I have to nudge myself to go. Nonetheless, I really have been delighted anytime I’ve had an opportunity to be with friends. I just feel more comfortable these days with smaller groups. 

For a time I missed going to the movie theater, but I have a great sound system and a nice big television screen, so there’s not much to miss if I stay right here at home. My sofa is more comfortable than the loungers that are the rage at the theaters these days. Even better is that I can watch the film in my jammies and not have to worry about looking somewhat presentable. I can purchase a liter of soda and enough popcorn to fill a washtub for a fourth of the price of purchasing such things at the movies. As time goes by, I miss those kind of outings less and less. 

I used to adore shopping for hours. I liked looking at all of the new products and observing my fellow shoppers. Now I go to stores armed with a list and I’ve become one of those people who rushes from aisle to aisle getting just what I need without pausing to inspect items that distract me from my task. I can’t imagine spending as much time as I once did lingering in a mall or department store. Suddenly such an activity holds little interest for me. 

I been slowly getting rid of excess baggage. I’m finding that I have too many things that I rarely use or, even worse, never use. This birthday and Christmas I don’t want things. I’d prefer making repairs on my home or planning a nice trip or experience. I’m culling so much but still can’t bring myself to let go of a single book. I’ll have to practice doing that in stages. 

Life was quiet and simple in my youth. I lived by a routine that kept my days interesting but infrequently included events that cost more than a few gallons of gas. The outdoors were the source of most of my joy. I walked or rode my bicycle for miles around my neighborhood. On Sundays I went with my family to the beaches that are not far from my current home. We’d bring a picnic lunch and walk through the sand or jump with the waves. We often visited friends and relatives who feted us with homemade snacks like cinnamon toast and lemonade. Back then I loved just sitting with my grandfather and listening to the amazing stories of his life. Now my greatest joy is spending time with my ninety-two year old father-in-law. Just hearing him laugh is a precious gift.

I think this year’s Halloween celebration was my favorite ever. I almost cried with joy to see all of the children scurrying from house to house again. They were so adorable in their costumes and their innocence. Their laughter filled the streets just as I remember the Halloweens of old. Nobody seemed to be expecting anything more than just the joy of celebrating again. It’s amazing how much we lowered our expectations but ended up enjoying the moment more than ever.

If I have learned anything during the time of COVID-19 it is that so much that I thought was important before now seems unnecessary. All of my value is now focused on people and memories. My husband, Mike, and I get joy out of seeing a new rose bloom on one of our bushes. We love sitting on our patio listening to the children playing all around us or watching the antics of the birds in our garden. Sunrises and sunsets seem more beautiful than ever before. Knowing that people that I love are still doing fine brings me a priceless sense of contentment. 

COVID-19 is a horrible virus that has left death and sorrow in its wake. I would not want to wish to endure its damage if I had the power to go back in time, but somehow it forced me to change and to reassess my life. In doing that I have realized how much I had taken for granted. Now I am finding more meaning in leading a less harried and complex doing things. In divesting myself of possessions and materialism I am rediscovering the joy of simplicity and maybe even beginning to help heal the earth in a small way. I don’t think I will be going back to the before time. Where I am now is a wonderful place to be.