For the first time in four years, I enjoyed a weekend at Joshua Tree National Park. I longed for this time, to return to one of my favourite places in the world. I walked by moonlight, climbed by daylight, cooked simple meals made from simple foods, and slept under a cloudless, star lit dome.
For the past two years living a suburban life in South Africa, and now, temporary residence in Phoenix, I struggle to find satisfaction in the simple things. Cities have a way of drawing us into complex patterns, escalating, upward spirals of complexity. Joshua Tree provided fresh reminder of what it means to live simply.
Living in the city too can incorporate many of the joys of a simple life–growing herbs, tomatoes, squash, and peppers in the space between our buildings, roof-top gardens or window boxes, cooking meals at home, even sleeping out of doors where afforded. But there must be something else, something more we all desire, for so many of us choose to sleep in a tent, cook over a wood fire, and find a different kind of comfort in living with less, even if for just a few days.
Five gallons of water for two people for three days. Two cups of white gas for six meals. A loaf of bread, a tin of hummus, oatmeal, cucumbers, and that was all that was needed. Simple foods, simply prepared. The enjoyment of those flavours was of course, far more nourishing than any restaurant or take out dining.
This is a frame of mind, not a location or special space. Can we learn to take it with us, no matter where we reside?