“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” Henry Thoreau
A few years ago, my husband and I spent almost 3 weeks in Italy, during which time we were “unplugged.” No cell phones. No Internet. It was glorious.
But it was also a little disturbing.
I was startled to realize how much of our lives are sucked away by this plugged-in world of cell phones, Internet, piles of email, junk mail, meetings, and a head full of “gotta do’s.”
Italians may have their foibles, but when it comes to the fine art of enjoying life, we could all learn from them. They know how to stop working…spend time with family…linger for long, delicious hours over a meal with friends. And get this—they do it all without guilt.
I vividly remember asking myself, “Is it possible to bring this way of life home with me?” Just as vividly, I remember the answer I felt in my gut, “It’s possible, but you’ll have to build from scratch, and you’ll have to choose it—every day.”
We don’t clutter our lives overnight, and it takes time and deliberate effort to dismantle the madness to make room for people, for reflection, for creative space—time to breath, to pray, to meet a friend, or even time to show gratitude, thoughtfulness–simple hospitality.
Our culture and society will fight you tooth and nail in the effort. But Thoreau’s words are a good guide. When we are tempted to pile on some new thing, we should ask how much of our lives we are willing to exchange for it.
There’s an element of trust and humility in saying no. Do we really think the universe depends on us? When the cost of any new thing prevents us from being faithful to the people who are already in our lives or even to ourselves, maybe it’s time to simply say no—and trust.
© 2010 L. Kay Johnson, L is for LaNita. All rights reserved.