I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things in life which are the real ones after all.” ~Laura Ingalls Wilder
My husband and I recently moved from rural Pennsylvania to beachside North Carolina. This was a move of about 500 miles. Having spent the first 55 years of my life in the same geographical area, the move was huge.
I continue to happily adjust to the freedoms of retirement and the joy of living within a few miles of the beautiful, soothing beach. We love the warmer climate and friendly community, and are learning the history of the area.
I retired earlier than planned when my position was eliminated and I chose to accept an early retirement package. We expedited our minimalist retirement plan and committed to building our new home.
We’ve lived in our new digs for almost a year now. The efforts we spent downsizing and organizing before our move were worthwhile. Our living space is beautiful, open, and purposeful.
While we love our new lifestyle, we are adjusting to living farther away from our families. We’re continuing to finesse the planning of trips north to visit.
We recently spent several days with my parents at their home. The experience was a bit surreal.
After living nearby for so many years, I hadn’t spent the night at my parents’ home since my early 20s!
The long evening and night were both overwhelming and wonderful at the same time. Lots of family memories with those present and those departed or absent came to mind.
There were layers of expectation, anxiety, pure love, joy, fear and sadness. It was a weighty blend of emotion and memories. I focused on the present rather than allowing regret from the past or fear for the future to cloud our time together.
Being with my parents in August brought back pleasant memories of the gardens of childhood, family picnics, days at the pool, and the carefree moments of summer. I was also struck by the realization of the aging process and grateful for the opportunity to be together.
Now that a month has passed, I’ve been able to reflect on the visit and identify my high point of our time together:
My favorite experience of the trip was enjoying fresh picked local sweet corn for lunch.
Eating corn on the cob is a fun family activity that I’ve enjoyed since childhood. It is also a minimalist experience.
At three dollars per dozen, it was our least expensive, most easily prepared meal. It was also, in my view, the best meal we shared during the visit. Mother Nature offered us a treat in fresh yellow and bicolor sweet corn.
I uncovered a few lessons from this experience.
As we were driving home from a visit to town, we saw a sign that the corn field was open for picking. Once we arrived home, my dad immediately headed back out to pick some corn. He had been watching and knew that the window for fresh, delicious corn was limited.
How many sudden opportunities do we allow to pass by because we have other plans or decide we’ll do it later? Will we do it later? Why isn’t now the time to do it?
Despite the fact that we had plans for lunch, the four of us quickly agreed that the plans could be abandoned in order to accommodate the anticipated deliciousness of fresh corn.
Most of the pressing issues or tasks in front of us can be delayed. If we change our plans others will adapt.
Are we really as important and essential as we think we are? Are we truly so duty bound? Or are we afraid to let go?
Yield to simple, unexpected delight.
I knew from the moment we agreed on sweet corn for lunch that it would be exquisitely delicious. And it was.
Many opportunities for delight are lost because of rigid plans. When something wonderful presents itself to you, welcome and embrace it. Be open to the immediacy of the moment and enjoy.
Recognize your good fortune.
We were at the right place at the right time, offered nature’s perfection.
I am blessed to be able to enjoy time with my parents as they enter their 80s together. The entire visit was a gift.
There are plenty of annoyances and old grievances. Are they worth revisiting? Would the precious time together be better spent enjoying simple pleasures, experiences and conversations?
Keep it sweet.
Enjoy it, recognize it, and communicate it. I told my husband and both of my parents just how much I enjoyed our special lunch together.
It is important and powerful to verbalize how we feel, in the moment. Acknowledge and bask in the joy and ensure that those with whom you share the experience understand that you value it and their part in it.
Summer is a season, and seasons pass. I am grateful for the many seasons I’ve shared with my parents, and I am glad I took the opportunity to communicate my love and thanks.
About the Author: Jennifer Tritt is an academic counselor at a community college, has recently adopted a minimalist lifestyle, and is passionate about sharing her experiences. You can find out more about her on her Facebook.