A Small Life

handmade greeting card, collage artI met a friend the other day for coffee.  It’s a rare occurrence these days what with my Zero Money Initiative.  I felt rather posh, actually, pumping the Sugar Free Vanilla Syrup.  Simple pleasures.

My friend was in town with the sad task of attending to his late mother’s estate, so we talked about executor duties and sorting through a lifetime of accumulated stuff.  But, he needed distraction from all that, so we quickly moved on to other topics.

What I discovered while talking to him is that I don’t know much about the wide world anymore.  I don’t read the newspaper or watch TV.  The only news I see is what zips by on Yahoo as I scroll through to my email.  To keep my stress low, I avoid unpleasantness such as last week’s discussion topic at our Unitarian Universalist gathering on Human Trafficking.  I have enough horror in my life as it is.

As my friend and I talked about Illegal Immigration and The Economy, I wondered for a bit if I was failing in my duty as a citizen, if I should try harder to keep up with current events.  But, really, does anything change that much?  There’s a war somewhere—probably more than one.  There are groups and individuals doing horrific things to other groups and individuals.  Congress must be fighting over something or other.  And I’m sure we’ve discovered new and exciting things in space and in scientific research.  People carry out kind and inspirational acts in obscurity.  The environment is still threatened.  Babies still get themselves born.  I don’t think I’m missing all that much.

Talking with my friend did show me how the parameters of my life have shrunk.  I move mostly within a few blocks of my apartment, with occasional excursions farther afield, and the now-rare trek to The Big City.  I spend most of my time alone, with a daily dose of polite chit-chat at the Y or the library.  I facilitate my two meditation groups and plan one or two deeper interactions with friends or family a week.

I exercise, eat, write, make a little art, watch some DVDs from the library, and read.  I talk to my cats.  I put gas in my truck and get groceries.  I look at the stars at night, and I listen to the rain on the sidewalk.  I don’t really go anywhere or do anything.  And that’s just fine.

I used to miss doing stuff—going to concerts and plays, eating at interesting restaurants, taking classes.  I used to worry about being “productive,” about contributing to society and finding meaningful work.  I used to gobble up information.  I used to crave interesting people with views and lifestyles different from mine.  I used to want a lot more.

With a small life, much of the wanting falls away.  At least it has lately.  And without the wanting or the stress of a larger life, my rapid cycling seems to find equilibrium a little easier.  The cycles still happen, and the symptoms are just as rabid, but I’m granted a little more time to breathe between swings.  Who knew that simplifying to the point of nothing might be the best strategy?

Well, I guess those Zen monks knew.  But, who wanted to listen to them?

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. pegoleg
    Apr 11, 2013 @ 23:35:41

    I like the idea of being content with a small life more than the idea of having one. It’s what most of us have, whether we want it or not.


  2. LindaNoel
    Apr 12, 2013 @ 09:17:26

    This is the New Territory I find myself in and it’s where I’ve wanted to be for some time: a choice to Live Simply. But when I finally got here I was afraid I had run away to a Barren Land, avoiding my responsibilities as an aware citizen of the world.
    Always single and child-free, though unknowingly bipolar, I have compared myself with family and distant friends who have been involved with quite a few people in their lives for years —their own children-families, and through church and hobbies.

    I cringe at the idea of such extended involvedness with the same group of people.
    My connection with folks&siblings have ebbed and flowed greatly over my Life. And my friends have always been intensely connected to a particular life cycle, and then moved or fallen away. I had to break from one helpful and interesting long-time friend when a tragedy hit me and highlighted my simmering despair over her complaining nature and staying stuck with wrong men-choices. I could no longer listen dispassionately when it was all I could do to cope with my own life: I was relieved to finally say I had to stop with her.
    After realizing I have several devil-believing homophobic family members who are teaching those worldviews to the little great nieces and nephews I adore — and there’s nothing I can do to alter it other than being Myself, I just recently made the decision to just accept the world the way it is — with all that you listed — and use my energy for my own precious small life. I am glad I can live any damn way I want to – – – and, best of all, I have the good fortune to find just a couple of remarkable people who are in that New Territory, too.
    Thanks for writing about this, SandySue!


    • Sandy Sue
      Apr 12, 2013 @ 12:37:29

      So much here resonates with me, Linda. I think there’s always a danger of slipping into Barren Land. Wanting takes me there instead of being content with the exquisite detail of the Simple. And Wanting ebbs and flows along with my episodes. And I, too, had a friend very much like yours and agonized over leaving her behind. But in the end, like you intimated, we must do what is best for us.


  3. LindaNoel
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 09:26:18

    The physicist Stephen Hawkins just said he expects humans to be extinct here in 1,000 years, that we need to get off this planet and on to another to survive… Yesterday I discovered the tavern 2 bldgs over does not recycle anything! Tons of glass into landfill. The tall young kind Zack (who gardens and loves to ballroom dance w/wife) at the city recycle center assured me all cans get recycled after the garbage is burned, but there is no law/ordinance to require businesses to recycle them or glass. Yikes.
    So I have to decide to let it go….go the way of the overwhelming trashing of Earth, OR try to intervene just here. Very doubtful the anotherLinda (tons of us Linda babyboomers) owner I met dumping her trash will reorganize her bar: she said I could take the bottles off the top of the trash on Wednesdays….
    When I have World Energy, I imagine myself taking on the whole city, getting all taverns&bars to recycle…and how great I’d feel…and then I am overwhelmed with the huge mound of garbage (actual and people’s lack of thinking ecologically) and kind of ashamedly abandon the idea.
    Do I, or do I not? Well, if I feel resentful that I “have to” or feel Earth’s Agony if I don’t…how does either choice help my life? Detach and Live is what I want.


  4. LindaNoel
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 09:30:29

    …and rereading your post from the top just now helped me let it go. 😉


  5. Snoring Dog Studio
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 11:46:53

    I live a small life, too. And it is largely by choice, some by happenstance. I used to fret a lot over what I was missing – and Facebook has only helped make me feel less a part of what’s going on in the world. But like you, I feel that one of the ways I can keep my stress level and my blood pressure down is by distancing myself from much of what’s going on. Perhaps I’m getting old, but I can’t take the drama – I’ve got enough in my life as it is. Relatively speaking, and not relatively speaking, I’m fairly content with my life as it is. Of course, that makes me wonder if there’s something wrong with me…


  6. Littlesundog
    Apr 15, 2013 @ 07:56:50

    So many descriptive words here about letting go and living simply. I love the varied terms… distancing, letting it go, run away, avoiding, and stop. I use the word “dissecting” a lot. At some point in my life the stress I was engaging in just overwhelmed me. I had to learn to pick and choose what was important to work on, and dissect the rest. Oddly, raising Daisy deer, and taking heed of nature in our area taught me the most about taking care of self. I admit, I spent a few years in “hermit” mode, tending to self-care and licking my wounds. But eventually, I found myself able to venture out again, strong enough to say “no thank you” to invites of drama and chaos. For a time I felt I was an oddball… and I am. Before “consciousness” don’t we all look at the oddball’s of society and wonder why they’re so quiet and strange? I’m blissfully happy to be an oddball now. For I know the inner peace and contentedness of living well… living simply.

    I loved this post Sandy! One of your greatest ponderings!


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