This Simple Life
Updated: Jul 20, 2022
As I snuggled under a happily matted fleece throw, tea lights glowing amber, fall air sifting through the screens, crisp and burnt — I felt cozy, and chronically stressed. In the quiet, cat and man both snoozing, me the only one left awake for the hours leading up to midnight, I was suddenly aware that I was holding air, always, unless I consciously directed my breath: in . . . out. I was bound up like a wire coil, tense, bursting to spring, shouldering so many worries and have-to’s that I’d forgotten what carefree felt like.
Guilt was bound into the sinews of my shoulders, and when hands kneaded out the tension — they crackled — a rush of toxic crap releasing itself, leaving me woozy and wrung out.
My view of the world was like telescoping through a paper straw. The more I learned, the less
I seemed to know. Endless modalities, mechanisms and avenues presented themselves, and with them, came overwhelm.
I have no idea what’s going on or how to “do life.”
It was true that I often still felt like a kid, and no matter how much older I got, seemed to remain perpetually naive. Sure, I could be serious with the best of ’em, but my life wasn’t overly complicated, and I could clearly see how all my stresses were created in my own mind.
I recently had someone tell me that I have ‘no real responsibilities in life’ and I wondered:
1. If that’s even possible. 2. Why that mattered.
Do I have to be buried in external dramas, head spinning from overbooked obligations, in order to be worthy of humanity? Am I supposed to own more things or take on a bunch of extra, unnecessary work, simply so I can be considered an adult?
Well, if that’s the case, I officially quit adulting.
Why is sacrificing our own peace accepted and admired?
I created this simple life. My cat is my child and my social calendar is almost always clear. I like it that way. I’ve always wanted my work to have my full attention, and even before that, my Self. One thing I’m not naive about is how much self-care I require to function on a basic level, and how much more I need to really excel. I never thought I’d be on the receiving end of resentment for intentionally creating my life for me to thrive within it, but I’m realizing that someone will take issue with something, anything, no matter what you do. There’s no battle to be won, there’s nothing to fight, it’s simply part of human nature, to make something wrong with how another lives, in order to feel better about oneself. I’ve done it a million times, pointing out someone heavier in a room, so I don’t feel as self-conscious of my weight. Then I can tell myself, “You’re doin’ pretty good. See? You’re not like that.”
All I wanted to do today was write this weekly publication. I could say I “have to” because I “need to” publish at least once a week on my blog and Medium, and share it all out on social media to stay relevant and top of mind and keep feeding the feeds, but really, I simply want to. It’s Sunday, and there’s a church across the street from where I live. The parking lot is full of cars glittering in the sun. My cat is meatloafed next to me on an oversized bean bag I’ve laid flat and angled to catch the max slant of sun before it rises too high and we can’t catch it again until tomorrow. As sundials, we have to be fine-tuned this time of year, when days shorten and the sun races across the sky, what it loses in strength, it makes up in speed. That’s all I care about. Getting some words down, giving my cat a good life. Speaking my truth. Treating my body better. I like playing basketball and tennis with my partner in crime, hiking and working in the yard. We have a cluster of giant papaya trees that sprouted from our compost, and I couldn’t be more delighted. Money seems tight. More is on the way. Sometimes I look in the mirror and there’s a new bump or skin tag, I pluck a gray hair out of my dreadlocks, and it bothers me, this evidence of body wear. I have my worries and vices, challenges and insecurities like the rest, but I live a simple life and I love that.
I want to be kind to myself, where I am, how I am, instead of chasing everything I think I should be.
A while back, I was looking for a ceramic fox to gift my aunt, and I found an artisan on Insta that made the tiniest, most intricate and extraordinary figurines. I couldn’t even wrap my mind around how something so tiny could be adorned with such incredible detail. After diving down her feed in awe of both the quality and quantity she produced, I read one of her longer posts. She said that people asked her all the time how she became so skilled at her craft. She plainly admitted that she had very few friends, no other hobbies, and spent almost all of her time creating. It was one of the most strikingly honest responses I’d ever seen. I was so used to hearing about the struggle, spinning plates, life being crazy busy, having “a lot going on” — all the hustle, big girl panties, grind-speak that saturates our culture these days. It was refreshing to know that one person on this planet had given themselves permission to create exactly what they wanted and spent their time selfishly doing just that.
Damn, I wanted to give myself that same permission! I almost always felt like I needed to be doing more because everybody else was. I felt weird, lazy and loser-y having such a simple cadence in my day-to-day doings. No matter how much older I got, I still cared way too much what other people thought of me. And I knew now, there was no way to win. I could never make them all happy or pleased with me. They may never understand or like it. Even ones who had been close, that I’d considered friends. My biggest realization in this trip around the sun: I had to unapologetically live for me, now. To cherish this simple life and consume myself with that which fulfilled me. No matter how it looked on the outside or what “they” thought.
It wasn’t new information, but it had finally sunk in, and now that I’d synced it with my spirit, there was no turning back.