Monday, February 25, 2008


i've been thinking a lot recently about poverty. the good side of it.

there is a bad side to poverty, too, i know. deep poverty is not being able to afford health care for a sick baby, nutritious food to keep your body healthy, not being able to be warm in the winter, not having shoes and socks to wear when it's cold out.

deep poverty exists in much of the world. it's a desperate existence, which breaks the spirit.

but i've been rolling over in my mind the lifestyles of people i grew up with. their homes were often 2 or 3 rooms, a kitchen and a bedroom or two. an outhouse in the back, and a faucet and sink somewhere in the courtyard. there would be a clothesline, and perhaps an orange tree and a mango tree growing in the yard, along with other tropical flowers.

instead of a living room, there were a few chairs in the yard, perhaps under a tree. on a rainy day, visitors can sit on the beds in the bedroom and chat, but usually they are outdoors. children run and play in the yard barefoot with a tattered and mended ball, sometimes one that has been re-stuffed with plastic bags.

as i try to pare my life back to its most fundamental essentials, these images come back to me vividly. what do i really need? and why should i work to pay for what i don't really want? couldn't that time be more well spent in contemplation, reading, with loved ones. then i could cook, garden, sew, make furniture. i could make what i need, instead of buying.

the desire for a home of my own is intense, but i wish i could own a home like those bolivian dwellings...so simple, so minimal, and so sufficient.

3 comments:

Katherine Turner said...

. . . yes and yes and yes . . . why do folks want so much More when less is so much more freeing? i loved the image in your post of people living their social lives outdoors . . . wouldn't that be awesome? to spend your days outdoors? i dream of a small ramshackle cottage with a big porch out back where i can hang with my laptop and write, screened in against the plethora of southern coastal bugs, but easily openable for those hours when the bugs have vamoosed . . .

Terri said...

what a pristine and peaceful image you create. i totally agree with your values but i don't know how to live that simple life in this complex urban world. i want for material things while knowing at the same time that they don't bring me peace. at least i am conscious, i guess. i didn't grow up with a lot of wealth and our family and others were quite humble. i think that made me want more, to prove something, thinking that things would make me valuable. i know they don't. i long for your simple life but still crave material things. i am working on that. i know i have good values, but wonder why i feel that i lack...?

a great ego, i think, that needs tamed.

i so appreciate your views. they make me think about my choices.

herM said...

a resounding yes from the bowels of urban living. i remember visiting you in bolivia though the mosquito netting, scarves, and tarantula in the yard are some of the most vivid memories. but the simplicity that comes with the poverty, and the smiles, is incredible. the happiest people i've ever met had next to nothing.