Article By: Norma W. Beaird
Photography By: Curtis Beaird
A little over six years ago, I moved to a rural area in Georgia to work at the local college. I had never lived in a town this small, and for me, it was quite a culture shock. At first, it was a fascination because I drove to work down a long country road as opposed to a dangerous and traffic-laden interstate. Instead of stopping at traffic lights, I actually stopped for a family of turkeys to cross the road. At night, instead of being overwhelmed by city lights and sirens, I was overwhelmed by the number of deer attempting to leap in front of my car.
In the mornings, I would awake to a serene quietness that you never find in the city. Instead of horns and screeching brakes, I would hear chirping birds, whistling trees and the irritated geese that lived across the street. However, the fascination soon wore off and I realized that I was living in “the middle of nowhere”. Some people call it the “sticks” or the “boonies”, but I called it slow and uninspiring. My newfound world suddenly turned into something that seemed boring, backwards and remote. Thus, the complaining began. I thought I was surely missing out on something. Then, I thought I had lost something. Later on, I finally realized that I had lost nothing, but had gained something much more valuable called peace, quiet and renewed faith.
In the past, I was always considered a social butterfly who never met a stranger, and I always enjoyed having a lot of places to go and see. Having owned a travel business, I enjoyed being on the go. I appreciated options, and that meant having a wide variety of restaurants, gas stations, malls and discount outlets within a five-mile radius. Convenience and entertainment always meant a lot to me, until now.
Sometimes life steps in and changes things. After my husband recovered from cancer, a heart attack and then a serious retina surgery, the recovery time forced us both back into an appreciation for the simple and quiet things of life. Healing takes time and requires peace and quiet. Later on, after I went through a surgery and recovery time, I found myself yearning less for action and yearning more for tranquility. This slow way of life was now agreeing with me. Trust me; it’s easier to recuperate when you’re not living a fast-paced life under stress while listening to sirens and loud neighbors.
Unlike the modern culture of “bigger is better”, we live in a country cottage and we are approximately ninety minutes from the nearest mall. We’re about thirty minutes from a department store, but that’s okay. Not having immediate access to materialistic pleasures has taught me something about life that should be evident to most human beings, but as usual, we have to learn the valuable lessons the hard way. Life is best enjoyed when a person is not overwhelmed with noise and stuff. If I want or need something, I may have to drive a while to find it, or order it online. But again, that’s okay, because living in the country teaches a person to have patience while calming a restless spirit.
Constant stimulation with no rest leaves very little room for creativity, imagination and logical thought process. In the Old Testament, we read in the book of Genesis that the Lord rested on the seventh day. If the Lord found it important to rest, and we’re created in His image, then we need to rest as well. It’s okay to stay home sometimes and not attend every game, every meeting and every concert. It’s okay to take a vacation or sit on the front porch. Sometimes it’s okay to say “No”. It’s easier to heal when your calendar is not full.
My husband and I love to go to the city, but we’ve been in the country long enough that the city noise now drives us bonkers. Driving in city traffic feels like a punishment for something we didn’t do. Being pushed through large crowds reminds me of being herded like cattle. It’s amazing what living the simple life can do for you. Consequently, you don’t realize how much you enjoy simplicity until you’re thrust into the middle of chaos.
A life of simplicity has affected other areas as well. We don’t own a microwave oven. My husband and I have collected old-fashioned cast iron cookware. One of my greatest joys in the kitchen is frying an egg on a round cast iron skillet, and, I must admit that butter-coated wheat bread tastes the best when heated on the same skillet where you fried the egg. I love to fry an egg and make toast for him and take it out to the front porch. He eats breakfast while watching Henry, our front porch lizard, crawl in and out of the Boston Ferns. Yes, something has definitely happened to us. And no, we didn’t lose our minds; we reclaimed our sanity. We traded stress for peace. We have learned that being busy and being productive can reside at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Simplicity is completely underrated. Sometimes, life brings us to a place where we are forced to reckon with what is really important. We realize that more is not always satisfying or even better. Sometimes, we realize that less is more and that more stuff just means more debt and more responsibility. In the end, it all goes to a yard sale or a landfill. Sometimes, the best things in life are truly free and they don’t require a storage unit. God will never send us a bill for viewing a gorgeous sunset, a butterfly or a red-headed woodpecker. The Lord won’t charge us for peace and tranquility. Our Creator provided a world of beauty that can’t be bought with silver or gold. You can’t put a price on love, hope, family or nature. Learn to enjoy the priceless things in life without a price tag. Take back what the culture stole from you and learn to enjoy the simple life. Sometimes we need to wait for the turkeys to cross the road.
Copyright 2011, Norma W. Beaird. All rights reserved.