I read a great piece in yesterday's New York Times by Pico Iyer. In it, Iyer briefly chronicles his journey from Park Avenue to "nowhere" Japan. He explains how he stripped away the layers of "want" and "need" and "connectivity" from his life. He tells how he has found bliss in austerity.
For the modern American Mama, his chosen lifestyle must certainly seem foreign and, perhaps, unrealistic. How--and more importantly why--would anyone choose to live with so little modern "convenience?"
Iyer lost a family home in Santa Barbara to a fire. He left a writing job at Time magazine that many people (me?) would likely amputate toes to secure. He gave up his cell phone. As the he peeled off the external layers of his existence, he began to see his life with keener vision. And now, for all of the modernity that he "lacks," he has the time to "read the new Jean le Carre, while nibbling sweet tangerines in the sun." Talk about something you'd amputate a toe to do.
Setting aside my own envy at this peaceful image, I take to heart his message: Our 24/7-totally-connected-blink-and-you'll-miss-it lifestyle just isn't all it's cracked up to be. The more "connected" we are, the less connected we are--with our families, our lives, our very experience of our own existence.
I'm not advocating a mass pilgrimage to the lesser populated regions of our world. I'm not even giving up my Blackberry. But I do think a gentle reminder of what we have--and how much of it is so unnecessary--does us all some good.
The point, after all, is that we all have everything that we need already. It is within every one of us to realize our own bliss, to recognize our own wealth. When we do so, when we really acknowledge all that we have, when we let go of the petty "emergencies" we experience daily, we might just find ourselves with the time to nibble tangerines in the sun while reading. Wouldn't it be good?