Life today has become so complicated that we need computers to help us understand our computers. Appliances, cars and GPSes bully us 24/7. Cell phones accompany us everywhere, like chaperones — or personal jailers.
We dream of escaping to The Simple Life.
Decades ago, I lived the dream in Mexico, where my missionary parents ministered in a small village. They never punched a clock or answered a phone.
The townspeople loaned us a four-star hut with a thatched roof. Constructed of random boards, cardboard and dried mud, the walls somehow remained standing.
A restroom visit was simple. There wasn’t one outhouse in the entire village.
We awoke each morning to breakfast fragrances, rising from the communal campfire. Women in dark skirts and shawls rocked back and forth over stone troughs, grinding corn for tortillas. They shaped then flipped flat circles of dough onto a metal sheet over the fire.
They stuffed us with these tender, smoky treats spread with wild honey. But I, a narrow-minded five-year-old, refused the slimy raw eggs they offered.
Thus, I escaped deadly germs. I still might have consumed a few, however, because the villagers regarded washing hands as frivolous.
They kept their lives simple.
My siblings and I didn’t need video games. My six-year-old brother Ned and a neighboring burro supplied sufficient daily entertainment.
Ned and I considered the animal’s owner an atheist because he never attended church meetings. His burro was an atheist, too. Every day, Ned shinnied up the animal so he could ride like Roy Rogers on Trigger — until the pagan burro gleefully dumped him into a colossal cactus.
Each evening, lanterns appeared like wandering stars on the darkening, rugged landscape as people walked to church. Mommy pressed magic buttons on her red-and-white mother-of-pearl accordion, playing lively songs that reminded me of cantina music. She led the singing with her high, sweet voice. Daddy’s bass voice rumbled like friendly thunder. Like Jesus, he didn’t use a microphone; still, they probably could hear him in the next village.
No one owned watches to check how long he preached. We kids often fell asleep and found ourselves in bed the next morning. The hut accom-modated two mattresses on the floor — one for us three preschoolers and one for our parents — with plenty of room for hundreds of fleas that wanted to share in our missionary endeavors.
Decades later, I learned that one day, having braved fleas, germs, dirt and nausea (she was pregnant again), Mom dampened Dad’s enthusiasm for village life with a potent line: “I said I’d live anywhere with you, but this is ridiculous.”
And I realized my complicated life is pretty simple, after all.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever tried to escape to The Simple Life?