I talk a lot about living the simple life on this blog – paring down to essentials, and the like. I like to keep things simple, avoiding the hustle and bustle of modern life. But, it’s funny, you realize very quickly that you don’t know a thing about living the simple life when your electricity goes out for days. Suddenly, you’re facing the dark with candles and lanterns like those in the pioneer days. It’s times like these when you are forced to really slow down. You get a instantaneous lesson in how programmed you are to something you’ve come to depend on entirely too much.
If you haven’t heard, New Jersey (the Jersey Shore especially) was walloped by Hurricane Sandy this past Sunday and Monday. We were without power from 7 p.m. on Monday until just yesterday morning. Most of New Jersey still doesn’t have power and doesn’t expect to for another four or five days at the least. Unfortunately, loss of power is nothing compared to what some have faced. Houses have swept away, blocks destroyed by fires and the shore towns have just been devastated by flooding.
Instead of thinking abut what we didn’t have (hot water, a stove top or oven to cook, television, internet), we focused on what we did have. We were safe. We had a house over our heads and we didn’t have any damage. We took it as an opportunity to slow down, read stories by candle light, play games, and talk to each other (instead of letting the TV or radio do it for us). Once the storm was over, we took walks – the three of us, me, my son and my husband, hand in hand. We read long stories, all cuddled up together in a giant blanket. We gathered closely around a cluster of candles for dinner – revealing in the intimacy and the one-on-one time with each other.
We were lucky. We were also taught an important lesson in simplicity. For as much as I tout the simple life, I realized I don’t know as much about it as I thought I did. I learned to appreciate the time we had with each other. We learned to make the best of a situation. Instead of wallowing, we made good, lifelong memories, despite the chaos around us – hopefully some that my son will remember for a long time. We learned to embrace true simplicity at its core. We also learned that there are a lot of things we’re willing to go without in today’s world – i.e. the biggest house, the most expensive car, designer clothes, etc. – but electricity is not one of them.
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