There is a difference between having no choices and choosing not to choose. Having no choices in life is a handicap of freedoms. Having too many choices is a paralyzing coma induced nightmare which then eventually becomes a handicap of freedoms.
My Granny had a couple of nice outfits, sufficient clothing items with matching shoes, purses and they seemed to work for all situations. For years she had one nice burgundy polyester outfit that she wore to every family function and one special dress that she wore to every wedding and extra-special family function, like traveling on a plane to see her son in the States. She had a couple of day wear dresses, skirts (later pants), blouses and sweaters for daily wear. She had a few aprons that she rotated and one special one she wore for Christmas. She had a tan pair of shoes with small heels that matched everything and of course her famous white Keds sneakers, which she wore every day, even with her skirts. When they wore out, mostly from over washing, she bought another pair exactly the same. She could have easily fit every item of clothing she owned into the two suitcases most of us take on a two-week holiday. I can still hear her, “How many sweaters does one person need? I can only wear one at a time. Stop buying me more sweaters.” Now I wonder if it really was the number of sweaters or the fact it made her life more complicated making the choice of which sweater to wear on any particular day.
I’m still not sure if she was amazed or disgusted over the amount of clothing my sister and I owned growing up and especially into our teen years. Some time ago she saw the number of clothing items and toys our children were endowed with she gave up commenting completely.
I dream about her simplicity of life, how her self-imposed lack of choice actually gave her more freedom. A life of choosing to live simply and to a certain extent, a life with no choices to be made verses a life with no choices. As we embarked on our adventure, I had imaginings of a life less complicated, floating from country to country, sipping wine, savouring cultural food with closed eyes moans. We have successfully maintained somewhat of a vagabond lifestyle in that we have left a lot of belongings behind and live without the clutter of attainment, but we have a far way to go to reach the level of ease we are ultimately striving towards.
Case in point: we had come to a fork in the road so to speak of where our next stop on this train ride would let us off. We spent hours analyzing every option which included, but not limited to:
Costa del Sol
South of France
Brother. We spent hours upon hours on the internet reviewing villa rental prices and travel advice blogs and websites. Country vs.. country; city vs.. city; culture vs.. culture; cost vs.. cost. The only thing we were successful in was a self-induced paralyzing coma of indecision, sometimes brought on by too much wine whilst surfing the web. Too much information actually took away our choices. Throwing our arms up as if in giving up and asking for divine wisdom, it was at this point we realized that we haven’t really embraced the Spanish culture and decided (at last) that we would stay in Spain. But where in Spain? Madrid? Barcelona? Malaga? Costa del Sol? Costa Brava? Brother.
Once we narrowed it down to two choices, Barcelona or Costa Blanca (where we are now) we drove up to Barcelona to investigate it further. Driving in the traffic of a large world-class city and realizing we would be in an apartment (both undesirable on our wish list) helped make our decision a little easier. In the end we chose lifestyle over substance. Beach over city. Stability over having to make this choice again sometime in the near future.
We signed a one year contract for a place close by to Calpe, just outside of Denia. It has a few more creature comforts and extended room for company. It has a lot of features on our check list – a view of the sea and a pool from the top of the list. It certainly doesn’t have the vibe of Barcelona but that’s okay because Barcelona isn’t going anywhere anytime soon; it’s only an afternoon’s drive away to the cultural investigation and small boutique cafe’s I am yearning for but miles away from the traffic and crowds we so want to avoid.
I believe when you own the uncomplicated life, the owner of fewer choices, the happier you will be. It has nothing to do with where you are, how much you make, how much you have or what culture you are embracing. It has to do with peace of mind that the choice you made is right for you and over analyzing many choices will always uncover the negative side to every choice. Having too many choices forces you to see the negative side of all choices, so no matter which choice you end up with, it starts with a twinge of regret and that regret eventually invites his friends doubt and proof.
Although I am happy with our choice I can’t help wondering if we made the right choice. Will I be bored sticking around for a full year? Will we grow a root and completely bury our original dreams of touring Europe? Are we too isolated? Did we go too big? Too small? Where was simplicity of living life by the coat tails and hanging on? See how easy it is to over analyze a choice and bring up doubts and watch for proof?
When we would visit Calgary, we always took my Opa out for lunch. Soon after we sat down and ordered our first drinks, the tension would start. Opa always asked for a ‘beer’, never mentioning it by brand. Of course the waitress would rattle off all the brands they carried and Opa always the replied with Bud as it was easy to understand with his thick Dutch accent. When she arrived with the drinks, it was time to take the order. Opa, in his simplicity, (wearing the same jacket and pants he always wore when he went out) one time asked for a ham sandwich. We all braced ourselves for what was coming as the exchanged always went something like this:
White or brown? White.
Lettuce and tomato? Yes.
Mustard or Mayo? Mustard.
Fries or Salad? Fries.
Gravy on your fries? <Insert Dutch swear word>! All I want is a ham sandwich and a beer, what is the problem?
So many choices upset him. In his mind they took something very simple and complicated it beyond his comprehension.
Chose what is worth making choices on and let the rest fall into place. Chose not to have so many choices and let the simplicity fall into place. Choose the simplicity and let the happiness fall into place. Choose the happiness and let your life fall into place.