food, farming, friends and family: a meditation on chosen simplicity and (in)voluntary complications – life.

Training Myself to Slow Down

The end of the year is sneaking up on me again; I was lulled into a sense of timelessness by the clear skies and brisk air of early December, but all it takes are some Christmas lights, a few holiday parties, and a forecast of snow to remind me that the year is rushing on, with or without me.

A whirlwind of a weekend is in my future: Neil and I run the Jingle Bell Run here in Bellingham tomorrow morning, bright and early. Saturday and Sunday will be filled with Seattle friends, Secret Santas, White Elephants, and probably too much champagne.

And on Monday I’m hopping the Empire Builder train the 2300 miles home to Michigan. This will be my third year riding the old rail, and, though the realities of little sleep and a sore ass don’t quite match the romanticism I still insist on associating with the train, I really love traveling at this slower pace. Time to reflect and to look forward, time to craft, read and open up conversations with strangers. Yep, I’m still sentimental about the train (though anyone willing to provide some healthy competition for Amtrak has my full support!).

I’m very excited to see my family, to reconnect with old friends and old places; to go out to movies and eat too much cold cereal; to listen to Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton sing incredible Christmas carols; to go sledding with my mom, thrift-store shopping with my sister, out to Indian food with my brother, cook with my dad, trade stories with Jac, go on runs and walks with Corinne and Sara, and watch Erica try on wedding dresses (!).

And to know that when I come back (still unsure as to whether that will be by train or plane) there is a home waiting for me back in Bellingham! A new one. Yes, another move is in my and Neil’s future. But this one is a matter of a few miles – to a yurt near a couple of good friends, and with plenty of room to grow food. It certainly can feel like a burden to have made some many homes over the years, but it’s impossible to put a value on the friendships I’ve made in the process and the freedom it takes to be able to be so mobile.

So, with that, roll on December … with this in mind:

Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why. -Eddie Cantor

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