Thursday, July 24, 2014

Writing again

The other day I got a lovely e-mail from a friend who (quite rightly) asked, "Did you stop writing your blog, or am I just not being notified?"

Excellent question. My not-so-excellent answer is that I still have my blog, but I haven't been writing in it lately.

There are reasons why. Laziness doesn't top the list, but definitely makes the top ten. Possibly the top five. To be absolutely honest (and why not? I'm not likely to see most of you on the street where you can publicly and profoundly snub me) I started to think that my life wasn't as exotic as it once was and could in no way compete with the lives I see on Facebook.

My food never looks as yummy as yours, my selfies make me look like Alfred Hitchcock except I have like ten more chins than he had, my friends aren't outrageously outgoing when a camera comes out, and while I live in a beautiful setting often one hill looks much like another. I  felt like I didn't have anything of real substance to share. But it is on my mind. I frequently write blog posts (in my head) while riding. They're lyrical compositions on important topics and when I get home I can't even remember what they were supposed to be about, much less reconstruct even one beautiful sentence. Totally frustrating.

Then came the e-mail asking if I still wrote my blog and I realized that every life looks kind of boring from the inside; even the most exotic and romantic life, when repeated day after day, begins to feel commonplace. I also realized that if I was using Facebook as a benchmark for how great my life was I was pitting my actual life against everyone's fantasy life. Tilting at windmills is something I gave up several decades ago.

So I'm re-entering the blogosphere today because last week my life here changed significantly. The family I had been babysitting for for the last almost two years returned to the United States. It was difficult for me. I've watched the kids grow up. I was trusted to participate in raising them. It was hard to see them go.

But that's not even what I want to write about today. Eventually I'll get to the point. This family had lived in a space large enough for them to accumulate stuff and when the time came to leave they had to get rid of some things because to take it all back would have been expensive. Also anything that plugged into the wall would be useless in the States. So they began gifting their friends with everything that didn't make the cut to be boxed up and sent to the US.

One day the Mom came up to me and said "I know you guys like to be nomadic and all, but there are a few things I think you really should have." I hadn't actually thought of myself as nomadic, but kind of like the description. I do lack a camel, which in my mind is part and parcel of a nomadic life, but we try to be very discerning in what things we bring into our small space. She had been very thoughtful in what she offered and I really will enjoy using the things she sent home with me.

One of the last days (and this is the point of this very long story) she said that she had put together a bag for me to take home. Just a bag with a few useful little things in it and one thing I didn't need but absolutely wanted. We spent the morning rescuing the bag from the clutches of the movers and putting it somewhere else so it wouldn't end up securely taped into box #289 (of over 400) to send to the States.

It was bound to happen. I lost the bag somewhere in this huge apartment that was filled with boxes and bubble-wrapped furniture and I got mad. I was furious at the movers for taking MY bag, not respecting MY things, and I mourned the loss of a beautiful but unnecessary thing that I had owned for all of an hour. I hadn't even hit full anger before I realized what was happening and my anger disappeared.

I felt ashamed. Embarrassed. Ridiculous. I felt about two years old. I have spent the last almost four years living with less. It's been a very liberating experience to live as well as we do on so little. I admit to being just a little proud of the fact that we can be happy living simply, and getting so mad about such a trivial object felt like such a failure. I'm trying to set an example by living simply and sharing that experience with others and when the chips are down I totally cave. Even though I was alone I felt like there were a thousand eyes watching me while I tried to deal with my feelings.

But it can be hard sometimes to see others with so much and not want just a little for myself. It would be impossible to avoid the influence of the media and friends. But having survived living with a hoarder I know how senseless, useless and unfulfilling having more for the sake of having more can be. It's taken me a few days to work this through in my mind. I've come to the conclusion that the occasional I want thought is OK. I don't have to fulfill the want, that's my choice. Having that I want thought helps me to always know the difference between I want and I need. And the occasional I want solely because I want, as long as it doesn't break the bank, is OK too.


  1. Our relationship to our things can be interesting. I myself think it's fine to want, and to enjoy having, some things. For me, it's a matter of degree and motive (having certain things because they are useful or treasured is different from having things because they may give us status of some kind). Just my 2 cents...

    1. Marsha, you are so right! I just knew that in this one instance the thing wasn't treasured, wasn't more useful than anything else I already owned and wasn't needed. I simply wanted. Which is fine sometimes, as long as I don't turn into a two year old throwing a tantrum because I can. Thanks for your two cents, it totally makes sense.

  2. Welcome back! Don't get caught up on Facebook. Your readers are living vicariously through you.