It was a snowy Christmas Day and for company I had the Merry Little Lambs and Three Wise Sheep Guardians (that would be Olive, Clyde and Jay).
Yes, I was all by my lonesome — less the farm animals — on the most socially festive of holiday occasions. But, honestly, that was okay by me.
I’ve been the Grinch of Christmas for much of my adult life (you know, the Asian female variant). It’s been a dark turn from my childhood years when Christmas was a highly-anticipated time for playing board games and singing carols with the family. Back then, Christmas was Hallmark-card level special.
But as the years passed, Christmas no longer represented family time for me. It grew to mean some weird, self-induced stress to buy presents — sometimes way out of my budget and always at the last minute — for all of the people I “needed” to show my love for.
Apparently, I’m not the only one who deplores this aspect of Christmas. I read an article recently that reported that “almost a quarter of Canadians would rather do chores, work unpaid or even have the flu than go Christmas shopping.”
Damn. I don’t even know if I was that dedicated of a Grinch. But I fully understood these people’s pain.
All that being said, I still have a wee bit of Christmas spirit hovering around somewhere in my soul. And, admittedly, I did like the idea of using the day as an excuse for some quality downtime with Number One (i.e. me).
The holidays do seem to signify a break from work and the more serious pursuits of life. (Don’t worry, the animals still got fed!).
Fittingly in line with my anti-Christmas commercialism stance, I spent some of my downtime watching a documentary about living a minimalist lifestyle.
Prior to my career change, I definitely felt the need to get to the basics of what was really important to me.
I had chased flawed perceptions of what success meant, believing that advancing in my career and becoming more financially stable would finally deliver me to the Golden Gates of Happiness.
Instead, at the end of it all, I found myself sitting miserable and lost at my office desk. I realized that, for me, there wasn’t freedom to be found on this particular path towards “security”.
And so, I decided to leave it all behind.
Farm life is definitely the simpler life. It’s also the tougher life in some senses, but when it comes to material things and consumption, less is needed.
When it comes to how the farm runs, less is valued in terms of the resources and energy we put in to get what we want out of the work that we do.
The minimalist lifestyle means that I don’t need a whole wardrobe of clothes on the farm. I don’t need to put on make-up to go to work every day (it would be really weird if I did).
It is genuinely humbling. Because nobody cares what I look like out here. Nobody pays any attention to what I’m wearing (just as long as I stay warm!). And the amount of money rolling into my bank account isn’t what gets things done.
Minimalism, to me, also has a lot to do with less distractions. On the farm, there’s less noise, less buildings, and less things flashing in your face vying for your attention. The quiet, peace, and natural beauty here instinctively seems to calm my mind.
Indeed, “This Is Your Brain on Nature”, an article published in National Geographic, says that spending time in nature actually allows the brain “to dial down and rest, like an overused muscle.”
Farm life is, at its core, focused on survival — on the basic elements and necessities of life, like making sure that our animals (and, of course, us) are fed, and have water and shelter. You can’t get any more simple than that.
So far, during my farm stay, when a problem has come up, it’s been about things like how we can help a lamb live to see another day. It sure puts a lot of things into perspective.
So, should we all turn to minimalist living? Well, I get that it’s not for everyone.
That being said, I think there’s ways we can all cut down on things that are truly not essential and simply adding waste in our lives — whether it’s wasted time, wasted money, or wasted energy. What that means for your life is completely up to you.
As for me, I’ll enjoy the simple life on the farm while I’m here.
>> Read the next post in the #farmlifebestlife series: Cat Fight