simplicity and deserted islands

It’s Saturday, and there’s a lot on my mind — but nothing I want to write about in detail.  So here are a few of my current ponderings, in short:

  • One of my pet peeves is when people travel to Africa (or elsewhere), see poverty, and then return to the states to tell everyone how content and happy the poor Africans are who live in mud huts.  Here’s the deal:  fallen people are fallen people.  And they want stuff.  The guy who lives in a small mud hut wants a bigger one, and the guy with a thatch roof wants a metal one.  If you find true contentment, it’s because of Christ — not poverty.
  • That said, there are indeed blessings that come with simplicity.  I am experiencing them every day while here in Tanzania.
  • You know how we like to ask and answer questions about what we’d take with us if stranded on a deserted island?  Yeah, I think that’s not actually about being prepared for the situation, as few of us carry around swiss army knives, bibles, and David Beckham everywhere we go.  Rather, I wonder if our interest in making these lists is really a subconscious desire to simplify our lives? We know we have too much stuff, and somehow our minds enjoy the process of determining what’s actually important?
  • The difference between a hotel and a motel is hallways versus parking outside your room.  I remember it by thinking halls = hotel, and motor vehicles = motel.
  • When the World Trade Center was destroyed, I was at a coffee shop in Wuhan, China.  It was about 10 or so at night, and we saw what we thought was a movie on television — until some Chinese who were present started apologizing to us.  We went home and got on the internet to see what all this was about.  The next day nearly every one of my students made sure to tell me how sorry they were about what had happened.  Though I was far from the situation, I appreciated that a great deal.  The Chinese don’t always agree with us on politics and government, but they were all very sympathetic towards me.  It seems like so very long ago.
  • If you’re looking for a running theme in this post, I suppose you’re out of luck.  Really, this is just what I was thinking about.  And you?


Filed under just thinking

8 responses to “simplicity and deserted islands

  1. One of my pet peeves is when people mix up the words “then” and “than” when they write. To me it’s the visual equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard.

    And who ever thought about dragging their fingernails across a chalkboard, anyway?

    Other than that I’m pretty content.

  2. Wow! I enjoyed learning about the difference between a hotel and a motel. Everyday one learns something new!

    When 9/11 happened, I too first thought it was a movie on television. Sadly, this wasn’t the case!

  3. Milynda

    My pet peeve are people who to refer to 11 September 2001 as 9-1-1. Then again I also get peeved when people don’t use Christian terms correctly. Hallelujah praises God and not man (i.e. Glenn so and so is great, Hallelujah).

    My question is why is it that when we are asked about what to take on the deserted island we can narrow it down to three things but asked how to simplify our lives we have processes and books and organizational tools and seminars. Secondly, at that point of desertion are we looking for how to survive or how to be saved in the bible? Which brings me to the question of why did it take for you to be deserted on an island….?

    And my last question. If when you look at the village you just visited in Africa and see them as content, how do you view your own life?

    I know…a little bit off. But it is Saturday night and I am baking cupcakes.

  4. JMF

    Ha! Melynda’s comment about 9-1-1 was great. So true.

    I was still in bed, and one of my roommates came busting through my doors and started screaming in his hillbilly accent, “Man, terrorists just flew two planes into the world trade centers!!!! You gotta come watch the news with me!!!”

    Of course I was still in a fog, but as he was walking out of my room, I heard him scream, “George Bush is fixin’ to REGULATE some terrorists!!” 🙂

    This is one of my fondest memories that I hold dear about that day, as that friend died back in 2007. Every time I think of 911 I think about him saying that.

  5. I like that desert island hypothesis of yours. I never thought about that, but I think you are right. I am always trying to simplify, whether it be our closets, the garage or my own cluttered mind. I have to double check with Jason, however, before I “simplify” certain areas…or a lot of stuff he wants may turn up missing.

    Or I could just threaten to throw out the closet full of camping gear unless he takes me camping. 😉

    And just this morning a friend and I were talking about the hotel/motel thing. I always viewed the definitions as you have written above, but she said she refers to the bad ones as motels and the good ones as hotels….and she has a point there, sort of.

    I love Saturdays.

  6. steve ker

    I’ve shared with many Americans that when I saw all the people living in mud huts in Mozambique that they appeared as being content. Maybe I was just thinking of how complicated I have made my life, and how simple their lives are. But it really isn’t simple when you can’t get clean fresh water, and your corn crop is meager and you probably won’t be able to feed your family until the next crop is harvested. You walk miles to get enough wood for cooking fires, and mesquito nets are too expensive for your children.
    Their life isn’t just simple, but they have just resigned themselves to neverhaving enough to supply their needs.
    I will never again say how content those natives living in mud huts are. I will pray that their economies improve enough to give them the opportunity to provide for the needs of their families.

  7. Pingback: stranded « aliens and strangers

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