If I had to choose ONE thing to share out of all that we experienced and all of the ways we grew, it would be to tell you how much we loved the simplicity of our lives while traveling through Norway and Austria.
Simplicity to me means living simply. Without many material "things" and without all of the extra restrictions that we put on our lives in the form of schedules and obligations, that in the end only serve to complicate. At home we are convinced we survive with the help of our modern conveniences. Travelling, we are stripped of those. Yet somehow we survive. And we learn beautiful things about ourselves and our adaptability, our endurance and our flexibilities, our limits and our preferences, and most of all our ability to seize the day.
A few ways that simplicity found us...
- We had one week's worth of clothing. Just enough.
- The girls had only a few toys and some borrowed books. Perfect.
- We all slept in one room. It was fine. And even fun!
- We had no cell phone. No one to call, and no one to call us. Wow. It was incredibly relaxing to be without.
- We went grocery shopping nearly every day, picking up only the food items we knew we would eat over the next 24 hours. As a result, we wasted very little food.
- We had no microwave at any point throughout our month abroad. With two children who will only drink warm milk, and one of them in particular who gets about 90% of her calories from milk alone, I thought this would be a problem. It wasn't. I heated milk on the stove approximately 6 times a day and grew to enjoy those moments of quiet while hovering over the milk pot, concentrating on warming it to just the right temperature.
- The children consistently got an average of 2 less hours of sleep than normal. I expected this to result in meltdowns and behavior problems. Sometimes it did. But most of the time these two little girls proved to be extremely adaptable. Occasionally they made up for their lack of sleep by sleeping late in the morning or taking a catnap in the car or zoning out in front of the t.v. In general, these girls just went with it.
Overall we spent more time outdoors, watched less television, and played together more often. As the quantity of time spent together increased, so did the quality of that time. The girls solidified their status as each other's best friend, simply because they were each other's only friend. It was a glorious thing to witness these two giggling together... while wearing no clothes outside, of course.
All of this in the presence of simplicity. It reminds me to fight getting caught up in the American mentality of more. I want more. I need more. I like more. More makes me feel safe. Along with that goes some other thinking we easily fall prey to, like a scheduled life is a better life. And everyone needs a lot of space and things to be happy. Fight it, because it just isn't true.
There is great beauty in simplicity. And while I did a mini-jump of excitement in my kitchen when I got home and used my microwave for the first time, I can remember that it was relaxing not to have one. We aren't turning our cell phones in to Verizon yet, but we might be turning them off a little more often.