I’ve lived an amazing contrast the last few months. I went from the zealous pace of Washington, DC to the steady gait of Houston, TX. Houston is not a small place. It’s the 8th largest city in the world by land area and the 4th largest US city by population – both of which are glaringly obvious around 5:30pm on any given highway. It’s a not a slow place. Based on population and jobs, it’s the 2nd fastest growing city in America. It is, however, a more simple place.
That word has such a negative connotation. To call something simple is to suggest that it’s easy. There’s an assumption that simple things are lesser, somehow. And I will be the first to admit that, like so many of us, I’m guilty of believing that. But having lived on both sides of the fence, I can say with conviction that CHOOSING to be simple in a world intent on making everything complicated is a hard decision to make. And it’s just that. It’s a decision.
It’s a decision to slow down. We rush everything. We rush everyone. We rush everywhere. Why are we hurrying?! If you are really, really honest, is there anything you rushed to do yesterday that would have turned out drastically different if you had done it 10 minutes later? I’m not talking about emergencies or hard deadlines. I’m talking about traffic. I’m talking about the line at Starbucks or the grocery. I’m talking about the conversation you cut short or the art project you breezed past while unloading a backpack. (That was for me.) Slowing down means seeing what you normally miss – sunsets, smiles, sadness… It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle. It’s a decision to go against the flow (pun intended) to choose a more simple life.
It’s a decision to unplug. So I don’t know where my high school “friend” who I compared myself to then in the hall and now on Facebook went for vacation. So I’m not the first to comment. So the world doesn’t know what I had for lunch. We are a generation obsessed with KNOWING but not DOING. We want to know everything about everyone. We want their opinion before we cast our own. We wait for validation from a world of people we don’t know, ignoring those standing next to us. Yet with all that knowing, we rarely DO. We are too busy reading and commenting about it to get involved. When was the last time you had a conversation in a waiting room? I’ve made a vow not to look at my phone while waiting. It’s HARD. No one wants to talk to you because they are all staring at a screens that don’t talk back. Choosing to unplug is choosing to be different. It’s choosing to be uncomfortable and that takes guts.
It’s a decision to show love. Love is simple; we make it complicated. I’m not talking about preaching religion. You don’t have to change to be loved nor is it our job to change anyone. Love meets you where you are. I’m not talking about tolerance. Love has boundaries because if it didn’t, it wouldn’t be strong enough to trust. I’m talking about a decision to simply show love. No matter what you think of someone, regardless if you agree. Whether you get something in return or not. I’m talking about showing love to people you like and those you don’t even know. I’m talking about showing love when it’s convenient and when you don’t want to. I’m talking about showing love. Period. The end. It’s that simple. But it’s not easy to make that simple choice.
I’m not suggesting that all of Houston or Texas or the region live a simple life. I’m not suggesting any of us do. But I want to start choosing what’s simple over what’s easy.