I’ve done it; I quit my job in a way that would make most job counselors cringe—that is, I quit a job before I had a job (reasons why at On the Backs of Children). And I guess I had about five minutes of panic, but then realized: this is the very reason I choose to live my life so simply… so I will never feel trapped.
A few years ago, I chose to buy a house in an area that many would call “ghetto” (house payment = $530) when the bank wanted to give me a lot more money for a house that would give me a little more status. No thank you. I shop at the Goodwill, estate sales, and used hardware locales, and I don’t partake of many fancy gadgets (like iPhones or TVs). That’s not to say, of course, that I’m any better than the next gal or guy who likes all that stuff, but it does give me a little breathing room. And in that room, I’m now able to dream in ways that I haven’t much allowed myself in the past many years.
Simplicity. In that world, gardens and long walks and books and stories yet to be written, await. But more than that, there is the space for the things that can never be simple, and, to my thinking, shouldn’t be.
I often think I must be among the luckiest women in the world to have the relationships in my life that I do… with my sons, my sisters, a close friend and great colleagues… and Christy. But not one of those relationships is simple. Each person in that list comes with a different history and personality and creed and, dare I say, a little neurosis. And in the confusion of a professional life running out of control, the temptation, for me, was to make simple those relationships, skipping out on the time and attention that any diversity of humanity requires; a commitment that represents the richest aspect of my breathing.
In one of the sweetest love notes Christy’s ever sent (and she’s sent many that are beautiful), she reminded me of the tenderness of that diversity. She sent a video showing the unlikely friendship between a hound dog and an orangutan. After watching it, I asked simply, “Am I the orangutan or the hound dog?” to which she responded:
I think, you, my Love, are the beautiful, loyal, sexy hound dog.
Case in point:
- The orangutan needs a life vest to swim.
- The hound is much more easy-going and content to just ‘hang out’. (Look at all the spinning around in circles that the orangutan does— he’s a bundle of energy!)
- The orangutan can’t keep his hands off the hound, and sometimes, squeezes too tight.
- The hair!
It could be that such love in circles of orangutans and hound dogs comes easily. But I wonder, too, if the world they inhabit isn’t just simple enough that appreciation is the first emotion of contact–an emotion that nurtures and sustains more than any achievement or ambition I’ve seen yet in the corporate rat race (teaching wasn’t always that, but sadly it has become so).
My quest, moving forward, is to keep simple all that can be, in order to embrace the lovely complexities of relationships that can never be.
And here’s hoping someone’s squeezing you too tight today