The Simple Life. What is that supposed to mean?
You– well, maybe not you, but a person– might think that moving to Mongolia would be moving toward The Simple Life, that outside fully ‘developed’ countries, there lies a secret to living that is quickly being corrupted by globalization–or whatever evil you choose as the root of every problem.
Let me break this down: not true.
I am in Mongolia, but my life is far from simple. I am still surrounded by things that need to be plugged in. Example: I just made a cup of tea using an electric kettle. I cooked an egg that I pulled out of my refrigerator on an electric hot plate. The other night I cooked rice and made a variation of sushi from a rice cooker. I am typing my thoughts into a computer, for goodness’ sake!
Even if I was in a tiny soum with no other American or native English speaker, removed from any connection to the internet, with little access to the foods or commodities I had become accustomed to over the course of my life, there is no guarantee my life would be better or more simple. The loneliness might be overwhelming at times. The perspective may skew, with the inessential seeming momentous and the fundamental becoming trivial. And that’s supposed to be simple?
Really, the Simple Life is a struggle anywhere and everywhere in the world. It is not a destination you can travel to for respite or move to for a change of scenery during a mid-life crisis. It must be searched for, sometimes even fought for. It requires an unplugging, a re-prioritizing, and a centering.
Simplicity is more than simply using an outhouse. It’s more than making a fire to stay warm. It’s not so much what you can live without but what you can live with: clarity of direction, compassion for others, peace of mind, faith. And it’s seeing these qualities in the people around you. Because they’re there.