Friday, October 28, 2016

Flashback: Voluntary Simplicity

In October 2010, I wrote this:


Saturday, October 23, 2010


Voluntary simplicity


I began this post thinking to share an interesting archive article from O magazine, sent to me by friend Terry,  called  Back to Basics: Living With Voluntary Simplicity. There was fodder in there for a discussion about the "business" of simplicity. I imagine I'll get to that another day. 

This is because, in thinking of voluntary simplicity, I remembered Jessica Terrell.

When she served as the trails coordinator for the state of Missouri, Jessica and I worked together on a couple of projects. She modeled voluntary simplicity.

Jessica Terrell. Photo from www.MoBikeFed.org.

You only meet a handful of people like Jessica in your lifetime. She had a positive impact on others simply by walking her talk of living lightly on the earth while embracing its beauty. Good sense of humor. Beautiful smile. Gentle air. Excellent writer. Adventurous. Hard worker. She liked to take at least one trip a year with her mother, who lives in Ohio. She farmed a plot in our town's community garden across the river.
Jessica wanted to live small materially, but big in other ways. (She won a grueling multiple-week, motorcycling competition shortly after moving west.) It was Jessica who introduced me to the world of Tiny Houses. Living in a tiny house was one of her goals.

Once, I met Jessica at another colleague's house for a meeting. Jessica was emptying some items out of her car to give to our colleague. I asked about it, and Jessica replied that she'd been in the process of giving away many of her things. To live smaller. She offered me her one-person tent, which I took (and only recently passed along to Brother4.)

One of Jessica's professional goals was to move from Missouri to New Mexico or Arizona, and work in trails there. When she shared this with me, she calculated it would be five or more years before an opening and her professional "cred" would align to make this happen. It turns out that both occurred soon after, and Jessica moved from Missouri to Santa Fe in 2006.

You'll have noticed that I refer to Jessica in the past tense. This is because she died in a collision with a tractor-trailer on a wintry day in 2008. She was only 30.

Jessica was on her way to another town where she would give a workshop related to trails. Earlier that day, in her office, she talked enthusiastically with a co-worker about a book of essays she was reading, written by Barbara Kingsolver.

Another person who knew Jessica told me she called herself a "vagabond for beauty."

In 2002, Jessica participated in the Public Lands Journey. I'd read Jessica's fine journal entries before, but after she died, I revisited them, and this one stuck out for me. It embodies simplicity.


My Favorite Day  

… I know that when I return home, friends, and family will be asking “So what was your absolute favorite place on the whole trek?”



What will I tell them? I will start out by saying that every day inevitably seemed better than the last. “Seemed” is the key word, you must realize.



If I were to mix up all the days of the trek and do it all over again, each new day would never cease to “seem” better than the one before it!



So I have come to the conclusion that TODAY will always be my favorite.



The dawn of each new day has and will continue to reveal to me things that have never before occurred, and never will occur again, whether it be a beautiful cloud formation over a particular mountain, the call of elk on a cool morning in a national forest, or even the way rocks glitter in the brightness of the afternoon sun.

1977-2008


2 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you! I really love re-reading about Jessica. It always brings both smiles and tears.

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