May 22, 2020

The Pandemic Forced me to Live a Simple Life.

I’ve perfected the art of washing white sheets.

One part detergent, one part borax, and a ¼ teaspoon of liquid bluing. Let the wash water run while you add all this and wait until it’s almost full to put the sheets in. Never use bleach.

I have a lot of time to learn tricks like this during the pandemic. I love it. The art of sheet washing isn’t the only thing I have more time for. I’ve been hitting my 10,000 steps a day goal for the first time, well, ever. I finally cleaned out my closet, and organized all my unused clothing into two neat, color-coded bins: one for donating and one for selling on eBay.

I’ve done plenty of reading and binge-watching Netflix. I also started a blog, organized every drawer, cabinet, and closet in my house, and decorated the porch for summer. 

Mondays I write. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I attend Zoom meetings with my creative writing class and my church community group, respectively. Thursdays and Saturdays, I do French classes via Rosetta Stone. 

I am recently acquainted with this version of me, and I like her. 

Pandemic-me does only what brings her happiness. She wants to get up earlier, but she understands that it is okay if she needs to sleep late. 

She is unobscured by influences of a daily grind and creative ideas flow freely to her. She doesn’t miss attending social obligations, and she doesn’t even feel guilty about that.

 She could go on like this forever.

The only downside is the perpetual anxiety about the state of the world.

Thoughts about the environment, our food sources, and how life is changing are bouncing off the walls of my skull constantly. As much as I fear all this change, however, I  also fear to return to how things were before.  

The experience of living through a pandemic has been interesting. I’ve never been able to be alone with myself in a way that lets me truly feel whatever it is I am feeling. Pre-pandemic, there were more ways to hide from my emotions—mostly in the aisles of a store. But now? Now there is infinite time to think. To feel. And it’s changed me. 

I’ve always wished to live a slower lifestyle, but I kept shelving the idea. “One day” was the mantra surrounding this ideal life. Eventually, I would get around to figuring it out. But “eventually” never happened. There were always deadlines, obligations, and desires standing in the way. The few pockets of peace I found always had me saying “okay, I’m going to change,” but it never happened. It couldn’t happen. 

Until now. 

Controversial as this may sound, this Pandemic has been somewhat of a gift. Being home alone all day with my thoughts has forced me to hear myself out: What do I want out of life? What has been attracting me to a slower pace of living all these years, and what has truly been keeping me from it?  

The pandemic has also been a portal to a life that is not spent shackled to a desk for most of my waking hours, with consumerism as my escape from reality.

Now, I catch myself finding joy in simple things—like my white sheets—that I never appreciated in “the time before.” Taking daily walks and breathing in fresh air made me realize this was more beneficial to me than any gym workout has ever been, so I decided to cancel my gym membership and continue with (free!) outdoor workouts post-pandemic. As the days got warmer, I ditched TV binge-watching to spend time sitting on the porch watching nature. The other day, I saw a momma Robin feed her babies just a few feet away from where I was sitting. Witnessing that gave me a feeling of happiness that a Target shopping spree never could. 

These simple joys left me wanting more. 

“How else,” I began to think to myself, “Can I embrace simplicity?”

I began to join Facebook groups where I could connect with other people who also wanted to embrace this slow pace of life. The friends I made in these groups gave me insight on how to consume less, scale back, and live more. I began to follow minimalist bloggers and vloggers at the suggestion of friends I made online. This ultimately inspired me to start my blog about my journey to owning less and living simply

Of course, among all this, negative thoughts still elbow their way in. I panic daily when I see how quickly Earth has begun to heal herself since having less human interference. I agonize over the lower air pollution levels. Why? Because I fear when life goes “back to normal,” these changes will revert to what they were pre-Corona, and I just can’t bear it. I want the change to be permanent, and the fact that it feels so temporary overwhelms me. I just wish everyone would care the way I do about healing our earth. 

But that’s selfish, and it’s unrealistic. I can only do what I have the power to do: be the change. So I decided to simplify my life in ways that could affect our planet positively. I started researching bicycles because I plan to continue using my car sparingly. I investigated ways to reduce waste and found out about clever ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle products around my home. I explored brands that made sustainably sourced clothing, cleaning products, and household necessities and I was pleased to find a wide selection of options in my price point.

I decided I wanted less stuff and more experiences. Don’t misunderstand me—I still enjoy stuff. I love to decorate my home, dress in a way that expresses my individuality, and have a cute coffee cup collection. What’s changed for me is all this stuff doesn’t define my worth as a human being anymore, because it never really did to begin with. 

I want to implement this lifestyle change permanently, so when I do return to work I continue living a “slow” life. I no longer want to reward myself for working hard with shopping sprees. I want to find it by going on a bike ride with friends, or making a home-cooked meal for my husband and I. I want to own less stuff so I have less to clean and take care of around the house on the weekends, giving me space to enjoy my home and not feel like it’s another obligation to worry about. 

There is a lot of uncertainty about the future right now—when will things go back to normal, and what does the word “normal” even define in the post-pandemic world? A question mark looms where the fate of many things lie…but around that question mark I can see a silver lining.

A world where we consume less, work less, and enjoy more.


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