Before we dive into a small town perspective on living a simple life, let me tell you a quick story.
It wasn’t a typical Saturday afternoon. My sister and I had a lunch date, just the two of us. While driving through a small neighboring town, we decided to visit a local clothing boutique. We had just escaped the throes of motherhood for a few hours and our appearance likely proved it. Worn out T-shirts and no makeup but we didn’t care. As we approached the threshold of the boutique we were met by the owner of the store. She looked the part with a trendy dress, hair loosely clipped, tablet and clipboard in hand. Clearly, she was an in charge kind of woman.
She was quick to engage in conversation asking where we were from and making note of all the local events coming up. Not originally from our area, she had invested in this community as a way to give back to a small town. She entertained us for probably 15 minutes with stories of her children and how she stumbled upon this humble area tucked away in the mountains. While talking with her she said something that struck me. “I find small towns so intriguing and homey but I could never live here.” “I feel sorry for you with not much to do and so I want to help.” We smiled, thanked her for her investment and went on our way.
As we drove away I found myself feeling a little misunderstood. I wasn’t offended by any means but knew that I held a secret she was only dancing around.
Why are you intrigued by a small town?
You are intrigued and you don’t know why? You feel comfortable and cozy but you just can’t put your finger on it. With so many problems in this small town, it just doesn’t add up. Why are there still smiling faces strolling the side walk?
For those of you who don’t know, I’ll let you in on our little secret.
We don’t want “something to do” every weekend. Sitting on the back porch while the kids run in the yard is what our fond memories are made of. Sure it seems less exciting but that “down to earth feeling” is most often created here. There is a level of security found in the absence of distraction. We don’t fear the quiet moments for it is in these moments that we learn who we are, pass down our stories and values to the next generation and maintain that culture we hold so dear.
Friday night football is king here and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Our small town festivals are endearing because they are built by the hands of the people who live here. You won’t find a corporate agenda or big time sponsors but rather pride in upholding a long standing tradition. Attending family dinner on Sunday is mandatory. Life will inevitably be tough at times. I assure you there is no place you would rather be. Sunday dinner is a safe place. A place where you are met with open arms.
Please understand this:
My intention here is not to enter a competition. I am not arguing which way of life is best because the truth is life is best when we appreciate the goodness right in front of us. It is best when we make the most of the beautiful gift of life both good and bad. In ALL walks of life there is a lesson to learn. There are little gems tucked away in the every day routines and ideologies, built within the culture to enhance our own lives. I simply want to share a small town perspective on living a simple life as you pursue your own intentional and joyful life.
Relationships are key!!! Family is a sense of belonging that provides a security we all need to get through this thing called life. As we travel the world, carve out our own paths, experience our successes and failures it is grounding to know we can always come home. Home is family. I’m of course not necessarily referring to those you are biologically connected to because unfortunately that doesn’t always define family. I am, however, referring to “your people” - those you know are in your corner NO MATTER WHAT. They are there when everything is easy and picturesque and they are there when life resembles more of a battlefield. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize that my “people” are fewer in number than I once realized. And that’s okay - relationships come in all different shapes, sizes and purposes. It can all be good. :)
Regardless of how large your tribe is, my takeaway from this small town perspective is to invest. Invest in those relationships. Take a minute to notice who those people are for you and show up in small and big ways for them. Because more often than not - if he/she is your person, you are that for them. Our “people” not our stuff is what makes life worth living so my reminder again for us, myself included, is to not incorrectly prioritize the two.
Heritage is defined as “something acquired from a predecessor”. In my small town culture, heritage is honored. The values, traditions and lessons we have obtained, we do not take for granted. The coveted secret family recipe, the annual Christmas Eve gathering, a hard work ethic and the true understanding that “love conquers all” are a few of those precious little gems I mentioned earlier. I love the picture above of my little boy stealing a quick drink from a spring below my great grandparents home. Many generations before him have walked that same path, flipped those same rocks and knelt down for a quick drink in that same spot. It's a picture that reminds me where it all began, the heritage passed down to me and the simple yet substantial values I wish to pass down to the generations that follow.
Everyone has a heritage worth honoring. For some that heritage is wrapped in warm memories and an exceedingly large amount of happy occasions. For others, the outwardly appearance or “wrapping” is not all that pretty and sometimes more of an utter disaster. The good news….just like an anticipated Christmas present, the wrapping is not what really matters. It gets thrown to the side regardless of how aesthetically pleasing it is or isn’t. The “good stuff” worth keeping and passing down is inside.
Takeaway #2 from a small town perspective on living a simple life is two-fold.
First, take the time to consider your heritage. What groundwork has been laid to help create the person you are today? When we understand and know our own heritage both good and bad, I believe it guides us. It gives understanding to some of our innate ways of thinking allowing us to mold and shape our own minds. From there we can be clear about our decisions and our next steps. So even if you have to dig deep for it, find those gems in your own heritage.
And secondly, what heritage are we leaving behind? What heritage are we creating in our homes, our businesses, our relationships? Each day even when it seems insignificant is a building block of the heritage we will one day be passing on. The heritage I pass down I guarantee will not be perfect. It won’t be without baggage, hardships and imperfections but it will be intentional. It will be good, worth passing on and something the next generations will be able to use as a stepping stone. And I’ll even do my best to wrap it nice and pretty too. What about you? What will yours be?
I love visiting the beautiful cities that surround us and partaking in all they have to offer. The streets are busy and a sense of excitement comes with that. There is also a beauty in the quietness of the small town life, that if I’m honest, I haven’t always appreciated. But I’m learning. I’m learning that busy is not always best. I’m learning that the simple every day moments amount to much more than we could imagine.
Once upon a time I was learning to be happy again after a hard year and I learned it was not the grandiose gestures or a big aha moment where I learned to be joyful. It was intertwined with the most simple acts - laughing at a funny movie, lunch with a friend, a game of freeze tag in the back yard, appreciating that beautiful sunset or perfect cup of coffee. There it was, right in front of me, amidst all the little things once deemed too simple to really matter. Last takeaway for the day - sprinkle your days with those simple little things that bring you joy and just maybe it will begin to amount to more than you thought possible.
Thank you for taking the time to read A Small Town Perspective on Living a Simple Life. If you enjoyed reading, you may also enjoy this post.
“Today is a good day to have a good day”. - unknown