Today's post is written by Darcy of Message in a Mason Jar. I'm introducing you to some of my online favorites while I take a bit of a maternity leave. I love Darcy's heart for adventure and her captivating writing style. Enjoy!
I’m giving my favorite sandals one last hurrah in this city. I jog to make up for the time we lost on passing up the right street. We’ve had three conversations in the locals’ iffy English and my pretty much non-existent French. My husband slings a heavy duffel over his shoulder. I roll a small suitcase down the sidewalk and try to keep it from capsizing as it bounces over the cracks in the concrete.
There are these moments in life that teach you how to live with less.
This zooming down wrong streets and then hopefully right ones in an unfamiliar city full of zig-zagging walkways and transportation routes on our way to the airport to make our international flight...this is one of those moments. Any more luggage in our grasp and we are likely to miss the bus at Vidollet and even the flight home from Geneva.
The light luggage is good for our hurried exit, but the simplicity has worked well for the stay here too. I’ve brought seven outfits and three pairs of shoes (one dressy, one for walking, and my oh-so-versatile sandals) to wear for for kicking around town and for interviewing key humanitarian leaders during our stay in Europe. No standing in front of the closet vexing over having a whole lot of clothes yet nothing to wear. My choices are ready-made, leaving me plenty of time for the things I’m here to do. Something tells me I could whittle my whole closet back home down to this collection and be just fine...or even better off.
On our first night, our hunt for an affordable dinner place landed us on the lakefront at a little gazebo-shaped outdoor cafe. I bit into slices of turkey, ham, Gruyere, hardboiled egg, lettuce and tomato layered on the perfect French bread. I filled my stomach and my senses altogether on the simple meal and the scenery. On another night, we had another lesson in living with less as we spent three times the money for half the pasta we’d get at a restaurant back home. Yet we left feeling satisfied, rather than overfed and ready to roll out of the place.
Food is not just for eliminating physical hunger. When we experiment with having less on our plates and palates, we find a new appreciation for what's in front of us. I love what Mireille Guiliano writes about the importance of investing in small portions of good food in her book French Women Don’t Get Fat (quoted in Tsh Oxendreider’s Notes from a Blue Bike):
“The value of good chocolate holds steady...When you come to recognize the potential for taste pleasure and psychic relief, you will understand that it’s worth the investment. Fortunately, with good chocolate you don’t need--and should not want--pounds of it for pleasure.”Like her, I find the more sparing the supply of a particular delicacy (and the more I resist temptation to overdose on the pleasure), the sweeter the taste.
We check in and scoot into the airport security line just in time. I look for one last chance at wifi, but it’s playing games with me. Without an international plan, I’ve kept my phone on airplane mode when out and about away from the hotel’s free internet access. My device has become just a camera in hand instead of a global positioning system, encyclopedia and conversational tool. With less to do with the electronics, I feel my attention span stretching and my old sense of adventure sending me out, potential energy turning kinetic.
My feet ache no matter which of my three pairs of shoes are on them, and I take that as a good sign. On the flight, I open a book and read for eight hours, interrupted only by an occasional nodding off. My mind untangles as I follow the line of the single narrative instead of jumping from wall to wall in virtual world. In the forced simplicity, I remember that there are some things worse than jet lag, namely feet that are too idle and minds that never rest.
What are some moments in life that have shown you how to live with less? Share in the comments below.
Darcy Wiley is a writer married to a literary agent, a world-traveler turned stay-at-home mom (who recently turned back into a world-traveler!!!), and a blogger capturing everyday mercies and wide-eyed wonder at Message in a Mason Jar. With a background in teaching and mentoring, a Bachelor’s Degree in creative writing, and a role as assistant for her husband’s agency, she helps writers find their stories, get them on paper and share them with the right readership. She also leads an online writing group, The Story Circle, with (in)couragers. Connect with Darcy via her blog, Facebook, or Twitter.