This is a word that has become near and dear to my heart. I find it springing to thought in the most unexpected moments. Dictionary.com defines it like this:
Simple: adjective, -pler, -plest, noun –adjective
1.easy to understand, deal with, use, etc.: a simple matter; simple tools.
2.not elaborate or artificial; plain: a simple style.
3.not ornate or luxurious; unadorned: a simple gown.
4.unaffected; unassuming; modest: a simple manner.
5.not complicated: a simple design.
6.free of deceit or guile; sincere; unconditional: a frank, simple answer.
7.not grand or sophisticated; unpretentious: a simple way of life.
Appreciation of this word is something that has grown on me. It took some years, some upheavals, some face-plants in the dust before I could fully enjoy the beauty of it. Lately, simple is a word I treasure. Turning it over in my mind, holding it up to the piercing light of everyday life - it is flawless and beautiful.
The last few years have given me much perspective on this word. During this time, I had an opportunity. My husband and I were building a house for our family and it was up to me to design the kitchen. I love to cook, to entertain, to have my house crowded with friends, voices, laughter. Given the chance to create the perfect space for this was a dream come true. I poured over design books, read kitchen blogs, agonized over purchases, discussed minute details with a kitchen designer. I slept, thought, dreamed kitchen and house, until at last, the dream came to life and we moved into our perfect house. It was - perfect.
Then, the economy came to a screeching halt. My husband builds houses for a living. In our county, in the fall of 2008, new home starts went from 200 new homes one month, to one the next. The market for new houses in our area had totally collapsed. As our income declined and declined and declined some more, our perfect house became less perfect. Instead of a dream, the financial obligation became a nightmare. We sold the perfect house. As hard as it was - we were thrilled that it sold. No foreclosure, no bankruptcy, we were able to move on.
And move on we did. Boy, did we. Right into a little 1915 southern farmhouse, filled up with character. Character. You know what that means right? Slopping floors, doors that refuse to latch, drafty windows, a miniscule kitchen with a wiggly faucet, and horrid green floors. If you have visions in your head of a gracious southern plantation, please let me explain - this ain't it.
Life here may not be grand, but it is simple. And simple is good. not elaborate or artificial. Real. Authentic. Overflowing with the things that matter. Kids at play in a muddy creek, giant magnolia trees, southern exposure kitchen windows that flood with sunshine. not ornate or luxurious. The patch of peppermint, growing wild, a dandelion picked just for me, chubby-armed hugs, free of deceit or guile; sincere, unconditional. Laughter of children, purring black cats, a tire swing. not grand or sophisticated, unpretentious, a spot for a garden, an old fireplace, bits of history hidden around here and there. This place suits us.
I have found there to be much freedom and joy in simple. Moving here, we downsized our collection of stuff, because there just wasn't room. Less stuff has been great! Stuff takes time, thought, energy. One has to to take care of the stuff, wash the stuff, dry the stuff, be careful with the stuff, make room for the stuff, organize the stuff, keep the kids off the stuff, buy matching accessories for the stuff, worry about the stuff if it's not the right label or the latest edition. Not much stuff in the first place is much, much simpler.
This spring I am celebrating the simple. Difficult though it has been, I am giving thanks for the road that has taught me joy in the simple, peace in the uncomplicated. I am celebrating freedom from what could never satisfy, dancing in this beautiful, simple life I've been given.
The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life. ~Robert Louis Stevenson