Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Not so simple simple things?

Nothing very profound to say, but just something I’ve been mulling over today. As I walked barefoot down the length of the lawn today to hang the laundry out on our clothesline slung between two tall trees, surrounded by lush green, it was one of those satisfying moments when I was very grateful for what I see as a ‘simple thing’. Then I got to thinking that I have not always had these privileges: a lawn of my own, trees surrounding my home, or even an outside space to hang my clothes. And there have also been times in my life where I’ve had no washing machine and have had to lug loads of dirty (and then clean!) laundry around. So today’s activity is a ‘simple thing’ for me at this point in my life, and I’m happy when I’m grateful for it, because I often simply take it for granted. But for ‘former me’s’, and for countless other people in this world, my ‘simple things’ are far from simple; in fact, they would be luxuries. It reminds me of something our friends Walter and Carol Thiessen have said before about a time in their life when they did not have much money: that being poor is far from ‘the simple life’; it is very complicated, and extremely hard work, and exhausting. I have experienced little tastes of this reality, and I watch others experience it still; I hate how utterly soul-destroying and strength-sapping the simple struggle to survive can become. I wish it was not the case for anyone, especially not those I know and love, and I long to know if and how I can be part of changing this.

Another little example of what has sparked these reflections… Earlier this week, hours before a hoard of wonderful friends were due to join us for an evening BBQ, and minutes before Jeremy planned to set in to wash the latest mountain of dishes, the tap to our house water snapped off in his hands while he was trying to turn it off to mend something. Panic! How can we do the dishes, make iced tea, put flowers in a vase, shower off the sweat of the humid day… without water?! But… we live in Canada and have a phone, and we can call and get an emergency guy from the town to come out within minutes and mend the tap, and we are fortunate enough to be able to pay him, and the day’s plans went on, and the party went off without a hitch. Our panic was unnecessary, no back-breaking labour or complicated problem-solving ensued, and we were not even inconvenienced. Our life is simple because we are, in relative terms, rich.

So… I know these thoughts are the clichéd reflections of one of the privileged few, but they are genuine nonetheless. And at least they leave me aware that I am privileged, and desiring to be grateful more often and to learn to be more generous, wise, just and open-handed with what I have.


  1. Here is my reflection from this piece. As I open my computer to check all my emails before i start the day of work, i came upon this blog by one of my few friends that i treasure very much. Her thoughts and words make you feel something, sometime you get to read something that speaks the 'truth' for you, the truth you thought nobody will not notice it.
    Therefore, I also want to say that i feel privileged to have a friend like you, You feel safe with this friendship regardless of the distance, and a smart friend that write well:)
    This does not happen easily or instantly in life.
    I take your last paragraph as gift. I am aware that I am privileged, and desiring to be grateful more often and to learn to be more generous, wise, just and open-handed with what I have and where i am now:)

  2. Thank you, dear Julianne and Clarice!

    I treasure your reflection and your friendship too, Zi Yun, and am grateful for who you are. I see you as someone who lives with the thoughts and reality of this particular post always before your eyes, informing your choices both big and small, and I greatly admire you for this.

  3. so many times i associate the word simple with easy - and it is truly a bad link - even the simple things in life can be truly difficult. but i love the simple way.