There was a lot of talk about “living simply” at the beginning of the semester. Some of us were concerned. How can we live simply in this nice house? How can we live simply when a large pile of pan magically appears every Tuesday with our groceries? In his book, Tattoos on the Heart, Greg Boyle said, “Our choice is not to focus on the narrow but to narrow our focus.”
Here are some things that I don’t normally focus on that I have found myself focusing on this semester: steam twirling above a mug of tea, water sounds, clouds slowly moving, the smell of flowers on the walk to the bus, flight patterns of mariposas, birds chirping, clothes swaying on the line. Also, curling up with friends to watch a movie, watching sunsets together, sing-a-longs and sharing stories. I looked up from my reading to encounter a bird fly by and land on a branch perfectly in view. It was a warm, beautiful morning in our quiet backyard. I allowed myself to take a big gulp of the sun’s rays and was filled to the brim with gratitude. “Wow, I thought. I am so grateful I have the time to do this.”
Then, I realized something very important: I don’t have the time to do this. I am still busy here. I want (and need) to go to class, go to praxis, do homework, spend time with friends, pray, call my mom, clean . . . our “to-do” lists in Argentina are as long as those in the States. This is great news because it means these moments are, potentially, everywhere. I can live simply in a tiny village in the hills of some foreign country. I can live simply in a big city. I can live simply at Casa de la Mateada and at Spring Hill College.
“The gate that leads to life is not about restriction at all.” The simplest life is the one lived in the present moment. The act of just being requires a focus so narrow… it might even exclude the simple living toaster.
Maddie LaForge is a Theology/Psychology Double Major from Spring Hill College in Alabama.