No matter how easy it is to subscribe to the idea of simple living, the practice isn’t always simple. In fact, sometimes it sounds like almost as much work as un-simple living. Saying no to invitations or requests sounds harder than just saying yes and following through.
Cleaning out the garage and sneaking into your children’s dark bedrooms to “edit” their toys while they’re asleep (because heaven knows you could never pull that off while they’re awake) sounds a whole lot harder than just closing their bedroom door or declaring the garage uninhabitable space.
It is work to keep your life simple.
It is work to edit your belongings and limit your consumerism and keep a firm handle on your calendar.
It just is.
But in addition to many other benefits, it leaves room for one beautiful thing that we don’t talk about a lot.
It leaves room for whimsy. For wonder. For magic.
And in a day where our kids are shackled with heavy backpacks and stacks of homework… where our teens are pressured to be smart, be wise, be beautiful, be humble, be young, be mature — all at once and without any lapses… where we are inundated with the next best way to feed our families, to unlock the secrets of youth, to pursue our life’s work…
We could all use a little more room for whimsy.
I often drive along a stretch of road lined on one side by an orchard — bare of leaves but carpeted with yellow wildflowers, thanks to recent rains. On the other side of the road is a farm enclosed by a tall, un-groomed evergreen hedge.
In the middle of this hedge stands a crooked, sparse pine tree. It looks like something the farmer didn’t have the heart to remove when he was planting.
The other day as I drove by, something sparkly caught my eye. That scraggly pine tree was proudly wearing a dozen glass Christmas ornaments. Red and gold and entirely unexpected.
I love to wonder who thought to decorate that stray pine tree. I like to imagine a mom like me grabbing an extra box of ornaments, piling her kids into the van, and driving to this tired tree, ready to wrap it in some sparkle.
Because why not?
They had time for it, and it’s beautiful.
And yes, the ornaments are still up, in late January. It makes me like this (admittedly imaginary) mom even more. She reminds me of me.
That decked-out tree also reminds me of so many memories that couldn’t have happened if my family didn’t value living simply.
Like the time my children spent hours riding spaceships on the beach, stray pieces of oversized driftwood serving as the crafts that would launch them beyond the atmosphere.
Or the time we set off to explore a cherry orchard in the spring — and got stuck in a giant mud pit we never saw coming. The memory of our shock has become one of those stories our family will tell forever.
So many of our most precious, unanticipated moments could never have come to us if we didn’t intentionally make room for them.
Why Simple Living Leaves for Room for Whimsy
1. The first and most obvious reason simple living leaves room for whimsy is that you have time. In an overcrowded calendar, the first thing to go is leisure. Leisure and wonder often (although not exclusively) go hand in hand.
2. The second is that you have the mental and emotional bandwidth to really experience the moment. To be present.
3. The third is that both of the aforementioned benefits open up something beautiful inside your soul: curiosity and imagination.
What Whimsy & Wonder Can Do for You
No matter what stage of life you’re in, whimsy and wonder can help you recapture your light. Your spark. Your zest for living.
As a mother of three young children, I find my light coming and going often. For me, one of the greatest keys I’ve found for hanging onto my spark is opening myself back up to wonder.
By carving out the time and energy to explore nature or to simply climb under the covers with a cute five-year-old and a flashlight, I re-learn what it means live life fully engaged.
It’s a joyful way to spend your days.
And maybe next December, I’ll take a page from another mom’s book and decorate the most scraggly tree I can find.
Just because I can.