Friday, February 1, 2008

True Simplicity

I think that I live a fairly simple life. I do my best to go without a car, I don't have a television and we try to spend lots of time as a family, interacting and enjoying time together. I certainly feel that I have a long way to go, but for where I am in life, I'm pleased with my efforts to live simply.

I took a moment to watch my new son. He was sleeping. He does a lot of that. When he's done sleeping he usually wakes up ready to eat. He cries... or lets call it an obnoxios screatching... until my wife feeds him. While he's eating he makes little noises of contentment. You can just tell that he is happy. When he's finished eating, he poops. This is associated with some grunts and pushing. After the work of eating and pooping he goes back to sleep so that he can start the process over again in a couple hours. I can't believe that I think I have a simple life.

The world would really be boring if all anyone did was eat, sleep and poop. So can a life be too simple? I think that it can. I think the human interactions are the greatest thing in life, but they also act to complicate life. The complications of human interaction are generally good. I have very much enjoyed what No Impact Man has said on the topic recently.

As I read that post by No Impact Man, I started to think of a conversation I had with a man in France while on the train. He was on his way home after work to have dinner with his family. I don't recall how the topic came up, but he told me that he would spend 3 hours eating dinner with his family. (He was actually quite skinny, if you were wondering.) I was amazed! Who eats dinner for 3 hours? He explained that they don't spend the whole time eating, they eat the first course, and then talk a while. Then they eat a second course and talk a little more. I don't know how many courses there were, but there were several. I then asked if this was a Thursday night thing, or if it was like this every night. He said that it was typical, except Sundays when they would have a larger meal that would take a bit longer.

First off, this was not typical of all French families that I met, but I would certainly say that meal time is different over there. How would your life be different if you had a 3 hours dinner with your family every night? I think it would get back toward the simplicity that my new baby has with the addition of positive family relations. I think it's great. I don't think I could do it. I like to be doing stuff. Although I often wish that I were better at relaxing and doing nothing, I think it would be quite difficult for me.

What would that three hours of eating replace? TV, kids' sports leagues, reading the paper, playing games, wrestling on the floor. OK, I like wrestling on the floor, but I think a lot of those after work activities could be done away with and it would benefit the family. I think about that man often and wonder if he still does it (I would guess that he does). I wonder how many other families in Europe are like that. I wonder how the world would be different if everyone lived like that. I still don't think I could do it and I don't know that it's the perfect situation, but it's an interesting thought. Could you do it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I could do it - my kids (4 and 2) would not last more than about 20 minutes. of course, they can sit at the table and NOT eat for an hour, but i don't think that counts.