Most mornings find me running down my road sometimes dragged by the current foster dog and occasionally accompanied by a friend. Our road winds up the hollow, along the creek. There's not much to look at except trees and a few houses and barns. Until now. My neighbors recently erected a small handmade sign. My daily run takes me right by it. The first few days I shouted a hearty internal “AMEN!” but the last few days its message has nagged at me, distracting me from more productive thoughts.
“There is no convenience that does not cause discomfort.”
Today instead of sorting through the odd plot twist that my current work-in-progress took yesterday afternoon, I found myself wondering – what do they mean by that?
Are they condemning those of us who drive automobiles, shop at WalMart, love our computers, and can’t stop staring at our phones? Are they actually closet Amish people? Are they stockpiling weapons in their barn? Do they (like me) secretly suspect our microwaves are giving us all cancer? Or is it a harmless quote, meant simply as food for thought?
I spent the better part of my run contemplating my own use of modern conveniences and evaluating whether they caused me discomfort. My favorite modern convenience is, obviously, my laptop. I have to think that giving up my computer would cause much more discomfort than typing everything on my old typewriter. My hands would likely cramp up and editing would be a PITA. I’d probably just look at the gobbledeegook and think, “You figure it out,” instead of finding a functioning eraser ribbon. (Remember those?)
We heat mainly with our woodstoves, eschewing the modern convenience of the oil heat that came with the house. I’m here to tell you that there is MUCH more discomfort in hauling wood then there is in nudging up the thermostat.
I recently ordered a small dumptruck load of mulch. I could have hooked up the trailer to the car and made several trips to the hardware store for mulch, losing half the load on the drive home and then shoveling it off each time, but instead I picked up the phone. No discomfort there.
Our new-to-us tractor has proved to be my hubby’s favorite new convenience. He’s discovered it’s back saving and time saving for hauling all that mulch I ordered, moving firewood, re-grading our hillside, and hauling manure. He looks pretty happy perched up there on his seat – not discomforted at all.
Running along I tried to drudge up a convenience that did cause a discomfort. I’d have to go with cell phones. Sure, they’re great, but now we’re all available 24/7 everywhere we go. It used to be possible to disappear for hours, unreachable and undisturbed, but now there’s no excuse except, “I forgot to charge it,” which everyone knows is the equivalent of “I’m going into a tunnel.”
But maybe what the sign was getting at is that for all the ways we’ve made things easier on ourselves, we’ve added new stresses, new pressures, new discomforts. I could agree with that. The less we have, the less we have to stress about. Every time we acquire something we have to clean it, store it, care for it, fix it, and eventually get rid of it. More stuff, more discomforts. So maybe the sign is an incentive to unload a few things and a warning against accumulating more.
If you look behind the sign in the picture you can make out a small building. It’s a tiny house. I’m wondering if my neighbors are planning on leveling their old farm house and all its convenience in favor of life in a tiny house. Maybe that’s what the sign is announcing.
I’ve watch longingly as the tiny house craze grows. I want a tiny house. Sadly, my present life doesn’t fit in a tiny house. There’s no room for my three kids, multiple foster dogs, busy hubby, and obsessive canning habit. My stand-alone freezer would take up the entire living room. A tiny house would be nice, though. Not so many distractions and very little vacuuming.
I’m all about simplifying my life, reducing the discomforts. I truly am. But I doubt I could give up Ed my robotic vacuum. He’s my favorite convenience.
On the way home, I passed the sign again. It’s message is written in chalk yet the past week of rain has had no effect on it. Maybe my hippie neighbors are modern day prophets. On the way up my driveway, I consider taking my eraser with me tomorrow. I could write, “To each, his own.”
The message of the sign followed me all the way to my computer today. I looked around at all my conveniences, again considering if they were causing me any discomfort. I spy my cellphone. Certainly its accompanying bill causes me great discomfort. I switch on my desk lamp. A candle would add a nice atmosphere for writing. I flip open the lap top and wait while it does all its daily internal stretching. A typewriter wouldn’t make me wait.
I have one more thought – maybe, as I tend to do, I’m reading too much into it.
#amwriting #modernprophets #simplify #thinktoomuch