Simple Living

Following the rule of St. Francis

Angelsey, North Wales, UK

I don't watch too many television shows, but tonight, I sat and watched a show titled 'How to Live a Simple Life.' I try to live a very simple life, one that is resourceful and crafty. Of course, being a student for such a long time naturally lends to such a life style, but so does living in three different countries by the age of 25 - two of which I have been completely independent and having to rely on my own means to feed myself. Peter Owen Jones, the 'star' of the show, wanted to find a more simple life style, so decided to make a journey through Great Britain with no money, only relying on the kindness and hospitality of strangers. He had to beg for food and a place to stay overnight every day which obviously humbled his perspective on life. There was a show in Japan that was one of our family favorites along the same lines - celebrities who were somewhat well known had to visit very rural communities and do a day's labor in exchange for a meal and a place to sleep. It was always interesting to see the reaction of people to the plea for a place to lay their head at night. As I watched this particular show tonight, I could strangely relate to the gratefulness after a generous gift from a stranger.

When I left for Portland, OR, I only knew a handful of people, but did not have any family relations, any friends, and had very little money. I had to establish myself essentially from scratch, establishing relationships and contacts, showing that I was an honest and hard worker. I had to find my own job and started from the bottom, working my way up from sweeping a coffee shop floor to eventually becoming a key-holding manager. I remember one rainy afternoon being so homesick and tired, wondering why I was there sweeping a dirty floor left by some obnoxious American, who, having so much money they didn't know what to do with, had just bought a fancy $100 birthday cake for their two year old. When I left Portland after 5 years, I had a university degree, more friends than I could count, and learned the kindness and generosity of people.

As if that experience was not enough, I decided to move yet another leg across the world to Great Britain for my masters - this time, I knew not a soul - I had the connection of a friend of a friend. The first night that I arrived in London, I was welcomed into a warm house, a clean bed, and a really good British roast dinner. Since moving to Great Britain, I have seen the kindness of people again as I have striven to establish myself in a new community. The generosity of people has always astounded me as I have been included into families for Easter, for Christmas, for an odd meal here and there.

I resonated with Peter in an odd way - although I have never gone and relied on people's complete generosity for my existence, I have experienced what it means to rely on complete strangers for so many things. I have been a wanderer in this world and it is a most humbling experience to be so reliant on others, and yet I always come away with a great sense of awe at the simple gift of generosity that humans have towards each other.

Thank you to each one of you who has stretched out your hands and welcomed me into your communities. It is a most humbling experience to live so far from home...