As I was unpacking for my second year of dorm life, the wife of one of my professors stopped by and peeked in to see how I was doing. She brought a dozen chocolate chip cookies, which I no doubt quickly devoured, and looked around with a smile.
“I always get nostalgic when I see you kids unpack,” she said. “It reminds me of a time when life was simpler, and you could pack everything you own in the back of your car. Pretty soon you’ll start gathering necessities and the load will get bigger and bigger.” She paused. “I miss the simple times.”
I wondered what load she was talking about, the furniture, books, dishes and clothes that filled her home, or the burdens of raising a family, managing a career and keeping the love alive in her marriage.
I’ve been working to clear out as much of what I own as I can, to keep that load as simple as possible. It’s a lot more practical that way, especially when you anticipate another move sometime in the future (I rent, so it’s inevitable). As for the rest of my life, I’m not sure if I’ve missed out by not having a few more complications.
I’ve never been married, never had children. The reasons I’ve stayed away from those commitments aren’t clear to me. Growing up, my parents had a troubled marriage, but plenty of people with a similar childhood have gone on to raise families of their own, some successful, some, not so much.
It gets lonely sometimes without the connections that come from having your own family. On the other hand, I have friendships that go back as far as those college days, including that professor and his wife. Even before social media made it easier, we kept in touch.
Every path has its moments of beauty as well as treacherous turns.
With my mental health issues (I have bipolar disorder, which is well-managed but ever present) a simple lifestyle seems to suit me better. I get overwhelmed easily, and need my space. Don’t get me wrong. In no way, shape or form am I telling others with the same disorder, or anything similar, to stay away from marriage and family. It may be your salvation.
No matter how we try, life isn’t simple, and we need others to be there in both trying times and moments of joy. I thankfully have the support I need in my life, and I’m well aware the loneliest women are those in unhappy marriages. It’s hard to reach out and admit your husband is failing you.
Every path has its moments of beauty as well as treacherous turns. The load gets bigger as we get older, but the simple can be found. Treasure the simple, value the complex.
Life is made up of both, and the balance we have in our lives is often what we’ve sought out, what we’re comfortable with, perhaps how we can be most successful. Yes, we need to evaluate from time to time if we should challenge ourselves and take on new ventures, whether they involve moving up or down the simple-to-complex scale.
Frankly, however, life has a way of doing that for us most of the time. We make our decisions according to our needs. So for now, I’m taking a deep breath, picking up a good book and having a simply restful evening.
Image Credits: (Moving “Van”) © James Group Studios Inc — AdobeStock; (Girl in Rain) © lavitrei — Bigstock