The pandemic was a huge lesson in sociology among many other things. I learned that I can live without many things and I am happier for it. I was reminded what was more important to me and my family. I was never one to try to squeeze more and more into my days to be more productive, but the pandemic helped me realized there was even more I could do to make living simpler and less stressful. So in a way, I am grateful for the pandemic – at least how it inadvertently gave all of us more time to reflect.
I understand I am lucky. I can see and read so I know people were starving, getting evicted, losing their jobs and other horrible things, so I am not saying this lightly. I am only reflecting on what I experienced. I am very grateful that I was the only one who was unemployed and that my father died before COVID so I could be by his side the entire time.
I have always strived to have a simpler way of living — one that is less stressful and more fulfilling. When I was living alone, my abodes were bare bones and for a while I slept on the floor with just a mattress and sat on milk crates. I didn’t have a full size stove and I did not feel like I was without. Yes, I had a salaried job as a teacher, but I didn’t see the need to buy all of these things so I didn’t. It was only after my co workers were “horrified” that I did not have a bed or living room furniture that I felt pressured to do something about it. I didn’t do it for MY comfort, I did it for them. That was a mistake.
Today’s world has so many luxuries that are supposed to make our lives easier. Some things really do – I like that I have a car that will take me places faster than walking. I don’t want to spend hours getting somewhere on foot and then being too tired to enjoy the destination. I look forward to electric cars being more affordable. I like my “old lady” bed I just bought. It adjusts at a touch of a remote and raises the head when I am choking on phlegm from my allergies to pollen and dust. I love that our house can be warm in winter and cooler in summer and we are protected from storms. I do not desire to go so simple that I am living in a cabin without running water. That is great for a lot of people but not for me. I lived without running water for 10 years as a child and even now, enjoy seeing water come out of a faucet.
I guess I am fortunate enough that I am simply cutting away the extra fat, the excess, the stuff I really do not NEED. I discovered I really do not need a hair cut every 6 weeks. I found out that my hair grew into different styles itself when left alone. I’m not working in an office so I can afford to let it go natural. It was healthier and I spent a lot less money. We were always trying to eat out less and voila, the pandemic forced me to cook more and I remembered that I liked my cooking better than most of the restaurants out there. Now we are back to only doing take out on occasion. I never enjoyed movie theaters. I was always distracted by the people who talked the entire time. I am very sensitive to smell so it was sometime overwhelming being trapped in a dark room with the hundreds of perfumes, colognes, deodorants, hair products and the food everyone was consuming. I will probably never return to a theater pandemic or no. I found outdoor dining to be far more pleasurable than indoor dining even with the occasional bug or two.
People that meet us may think we are already living a simpler life. My husband and I have never bought cable tv. It made no sense to us to spend over $100 for channels we did not care about. Luckily Netflix was just starting and it was dirt cheap and movies were about all we wanted to watch now and them. We are going on 21 years without cable and have never missed it. We have one credit card and we used it as a debit card. We never buy anything beyond what we can pay for at the end of the month. We mostly use the credit card to earn points for free hotel rooms. I pay it off every week and we never use it to buy anything we can’t afford with cash. We never had gym memberships or any other monthly services. We do not buy designer clothes or big label things unless it is technology and even then we have been lucky enough to get items that were throw aways to other people.
So what was there to cut out, you ask? Turns out, there was plenty more I could do without. I did not need to shop for food as often. I begin shopping only once a month and then creatively eating what was in the pantry and freezer until we had to have something. Because we eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, I did have to shop for those things every week to stock up as they were perishable. Aldi opening in our town was a big savings in our wallet. Our grocery bill was cut nearly in half. I only go to Harris Teeter if there is something special I need. I did not need to socialize as much as I thought either.
Everyone needs outlets – we do need to get out and socialize now and then but I was meeting people every Thursday to play music and while it was fun, it was starting to become an obligation. I would sometimes make myself go even when I was not feeling up to it because I did not want to disappoint them. Turns out they really did not need me as much as I thought. I think only two of those “friends” regularly reached out during the pandemic. All the others fell away and lived their lives and they did not seem to need any nurturing from me. I don’t have any ill feelings toward any of them. They were not doing it to hurt me. My lifelong friends kept in touch and I am satisfied with that.
If you thought this blog was going to be about living off the grid, using compost toilets and growing all my food, I hope I did not disappoint. LOL All of those things are awesome if you are ready for it and it gives you fulfillment. I do need some of my creature comforts. I’m not willing to give up everything but I was surprised to find that there were things I could still do without. So the rest of 2021 will not look drastically different for me other than I will have to consume more gas as I take the children back to school. My husband just found out they will expect him back into the building next month which means I may finally be able to catch up on cleaning the house. I still plan to publish my three memoir books but I may go back to substitute teaching at my daughter’s middle school in the fall since I will be in that area already. And yeah, I got my first hair cut in 15 months. I’m hot so I paid Great Clips $16 to chop it all off. It feels nice.
I am not entirely sure what 2022 holds for me but I don’t feel the need to rush back into the foray of society. I am quite content to be in the company of my immediate family and enjoy visits with my close friends who have been with me all these years. We will travel some but I have no intentions of making my life busier than I have to. I also pledge to spend more quality time with my besties. I want to shop at the Farmer’s Market more often, drink more herbal tea and take more walks. It may not be the simplest life one can have, but it is SIMPLER for me and I am glad.