Menu

More Peace and Connection: Recreating a Simpler Time

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” ~Robert Brault

Yesterday, as my boyfriend and I were driving home from a quick trip to Vegas, we saw a sign for a ghost town and decided to do some exploring.

I’ve always loved the idea of a ghost town—a place left untouched for years, still reflecting the people who once inhabited it, as if they’d just picked up and left mere moments ago.

Though aged with cobwebs, marred by neglect, and long since deprived of life and laughter, it would seem like time had stood still. I imagined it would feel a lot like Thoreau’s cabin in the woods: minimal, modest, and quaint.

In our high-tech, fast-paced world, very little feels simple. And while I love my home and environment in Los Angeles, I often long to find places that feel charming and uncomplicated.

We quickly found it wasn’t a village left untouched for exploring, though much of it looked how it once did; it was a small slice of the land commercialized with little tiny shops, as is the American way.

Still, I enjoyed roaming through the surrounding mountains and seeing nostalgic pieces within and outside the cottages—a few wooden carriages, an oil burning stove, and a deep claw foot tub.

While walking around, I asked my boyfriend if he’d ever fantasized about living in a small village, with a self-contained community of people who all knew and supported each other.

It’s something I’ve always romanticized. Instead of living in the hustle and bustle of our modern world, always consuming and pushing for the next big thing, we’d create with our hands and spend more time enjoying life’s simple pleasures together.

We’d have access to everything we need within close proximity, and the vast world made seemingly larger through the web would shrink in feel and yet expand in possibilities.

Not possibilities for earning money and succeeding professionally; possibilities for childlike joy and meaningful connection—the human wealth our tribal ancestors once enjoyed, before everything got bigger, faster, and automated.

After we left, we stopped at the nearby outlets to pick up a few shirts. My boyfriend found a few in an extreme clearance section of Old Navy.

When we got to the register to check out, they rang up for three times the price we’d expected. He found an associate to show her the sale sign, while I waited at the front of the store.

Moments later, they returned, and the woman told the associate ringing us up, “Give him the clearance price. They’re not on sale, but the sign’s misleading.”

Then she turned to my boyfriend and said, “Thanks for not being mean about it.”

On the way out, I asked him what he’d said to her. I figured it must have been something noteworthy since she went out of her way to thank him.

He told me he’d said, “No worries. Not your fault. Either way, it’s no big deal.”

All he’d really done was be considerate and understanding, something that comes naturally to him. Something in her gratitude told me this wasn’t the norm.

This, right here, is what I fantasize about. It’s not a world without commercialism or technology; I enjoy parts of both of those things.

It’s a world where we don’t let our everyday stresses taint our interactions—a time and place where the most important thing is how we treat each other.

We often blame progress for the things we feel are wrong with the world, and this type of thinking isn’t entirely misguided. Many of our advances as a society have created as many problems as they’ve solved.

But in the end, it all comes back to us. Change starts with us.

I asked my boyfriend permission to write this post; I don’t write about him, or anyone in my personal life without their consent.

I told him I planned to highlight how we can recapture the simplicity of the past, when people weren’t quite as consumed with the pursuit of wealth and status. He then pointed out that we’d walked through a gold-mining town—something I somehow missed since we weren’t there very long.

It wasn’t merely a cute little village where people lived off the land. It was a place where people went to strike it rich.

Human nature hasn’t fundamentally changed. Historically, we’ve always wanted to provide for our needs as best we can; and there’s always been the potential to get distracted and forget what’s important.

No matter how complex our world becomes, we can always choose to value people more than stuff. And we can always choose to focus more of the quality of our interactions than the quantity of our achievements.

That’s what makes life simpler: choosing to prioritize the little things, and realizing just how big they are.

Photo by Wonderlane

Profile photo of Lori Deschene

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. To strengthen your relationships, get her new book, Tiny Buddha's 365 Tiny Love Challenges. For inspiring posts and wisdom quotes, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

See a typo, an inaccuracy, or something offensive? Please contact us so we can fix it!
Announcement: Tired of feeling stuck? Learn to let go of the past & create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • desires1989

    that was awesome Lori, I felt a breeze in my mind while reading this,we usually get so absorbed in the rush of our goals that we sometimes get unaware that we are missing the most importance thing which is enjoying, relaxing and being aware of the simple and little pleasures which makes us smile,which helps us feel thankful, we just don’t see, and I think by being conscious of what could have been worse,we can be aware of what life is already giving us, we just need to thanks,thanks,thanks…..
    And someone said that we usually wait for the bed of roses, and forget to smell the smell of roses in the garden outside…..

    Great post.

  • Lori you are amazing at teaching life lessons by sharing your own experience. I agree with you, things can stay the same – but courtesy and respect for each other needs to grow. I think it can start with us, if we begin treating others kindly they’ll naturally reflect this gesture and be kind back to us.

    If one is treated with respect enough times in a day I think respect will be ingrained in their morals. Back in the day people were valued on their character more than their wealth, how did the human perception ever get so warped?

    Best,
    TJ

  • I always try to be extra nice to sales people because I see so many customers being mean to them for no reason. Their entitlement and rudeness drives me crazy!

    I’ve never thought about living in a small town away from it all, but I definitely have a love affair with the suburbs. Big, bustling cities have no appeal for me. I like the suburban neighborhoods, the parks and sidewalks, and the quiet nights. I guess that’s my idea of a simpler life….not too remote but not too urban…just right. 🙂

  • Guest

    Thanks for this! That’s exactly what I’m looking for too. Living in the hustle and bustle of NYC where I see thousands of people a day, yet only interact with a handful of them, finding those simple moments of humanity can be a challenge. And when it seems straphangers (subway riders) are just waiting for someone to invade their space or step on their shoes so they can explode, appreciating and creating those gentle human moments becomes all the more desirable.

  • Hi Lori,

    Well, this makes me want to say so much! I live in Nevada. A fairly small town. I grew up in the LA basin. I’ve had the corporate jobs, the busy life, the “hurry up” lifestyle. This was years ago. Then I was transferred to a rural area with a sales job and the difference was noticeable.

    But, and here’s the thing, I was then transferred back to the Bay Area and that’s where the difference was palpable. Wow. And after 3 years I came hungrily back to the small town life. It’s, well, almost intoxicating in its effect on the soul.

    So, while I totally agree with you that we can choose how we live, think, react, and such, I’m also a believer that your surroundings play a huge role. I was always mindful and never got really caught up in the hustle and bustle but when you don’t have the crowds, the lines, the waiting, the traffic, the … well, it’s just better! (for me anyway.)

    By the way, if you want a REAL ghost town w/out the “american way” as you put it … try Bodie, CA near me. http://www.ghosttowngallery.com/htme/bodie.htm check it out! (of course this is nothing to do with me … just a friendly suggestion. :))

  • joychristin

    Simply beautiful, Lori! You took it one step further by not only recognizing and appreciating, but also choosing to share! Thank you 🙂

  • Teresa

    I leave in Johannesburg South Africa. If you want a another ghost town you must visit Namibia.
    I must say that the one thing about leaving in Africa is that we often compare our lives with you fellow americans re technology, service deliveries, etc.we really do not meet your standards in those issues, bit i am learning to be grateful about it. Here we are forced to live at a slower pace, yet full of human touch. No machine can top that, even if frustrations sometimes arises. most of us learn that kindness, gentleness,love, patience gets us further….oh my, am i grateful!

  • Toni Knight

    Thanks for the great post Lori!
    I agree that we benefit when we choose to value people over stuff. It does make life simpler, and happier.
    Ironically, my neighbourhood seems like a ghost town by day – deprived of life and laughter – due to the exodus of the workforce. My husband and I chose instead to climb down the corporate ladder and gradually embrace a life that we vastly prefer.
    We’ve found that because we have enough money (without being materially wealthy), what matters most is time. Time to choose our path intentionally, time to pursue our passions and really connect, time for simple fun.
    In our experience, time is the currency of happiness. Those small but important things you spoke of in your post have made all the difference.

  • wow. what a great reminder that the “simpler time” is just a layer that is always present and we can operate on it whenever we choose to. the environment might make it easier to access, as was mentioned in another comment, but we have the power to be there.

    people naturally respond “in kind” when they’re paying attention. it’s no surprise that your boyfriend got the treatment he projected. your words are the poetry of happiness. thanks !!

  • You’re most welcome! I had a similar experience when I lived in NYC–I felt constantly surrounded by people and yet so disconnected from all of them. It’s that weird feeling when you pass someone on the street and you both look down at your feet. It makes such a big difference to really acknowledge each other!

  • I love that feel too! I hope to live in a small beach town after my boyfriend and I leave LA. We moved here for him and decided we’d reevaluate in January, so I’m excited to find a place that’s a lot less chaotic and a lot more quaint.

  • Thanks so much! That’s so true, about the roses we disregard. When I find myself getting caught up thinking about what I think I don’t have, it always helps to think what I have that I could appreciate and enjoy more.

  • You’re most welcome! I thought that too, when she honored the sale price for him anyways. She didn’t have to do that. He was considerate, and she naturally felt like giving back. It was just a beautiful example of the cyclical nature of kindness!

  • You’re most welcome! That’s wonderful that you and your husband have created a life that allows you more time. I feel the same way, about time being the greatest currency!

  • You’re most welcome. Thank you for reading and commenting. =)

  • Thanks so much TJ! I hope we can change back to that time when people were valued more on their character. I’d also like to see a change in regards to how we treat our elders. In different eras and cultures, they received far more respect. They certainly deserve it!

  • I think it’s so beautiful that you recognize and appreciate the benefits of living at a slower pace. It sounds like you have some rich relationships, and isn’t that what life’s all about? 🙂

  • You’ve given me even more food for thought regarding my next move. My boyfriend and I are planning to reevaluate in January, and we may leave LA. I hope to find a small town where we can live a more laid-back lifestyle. (We moved here because he’s an aspiring screenwriter, so this seemed like the place to be.)

    Thanks for sending me the link! I would love to visit Bodie sometime. I’ve added it to my must-do list!

  • It’s amazing….the things that we learn from trips to unknown places, whether big (like Vegas) or small (like the ghost town). I’m a big city gal myself but the show “Gilmore Girls” has made me fascinated by little towns where everybody sorta has their place and needs are met because there is a positive cycle of give and take as well as an emphasis on community rather than the outside world or “things.” If any “things” are used, they are used only in the context of bringing people together such as the times when neighbors visit the local coffee shop for muffins or bagels or whatever and then they chat about recent happenings.

    I’m trying to catch up on my Tiny Buddha readings and one of the most important takeaways that is too often forgotten or rather, too often neglected in our day-to-day hustle and bustle is…..”Change Starts with Us.”

  • FINAO

    I am a college student at SIUE and that very hustle and bustle that you talked about, is exactly what being a college student is about. From the campus book store to the local Wal-Mart where everybody in the town shops frequently. Now, I get away from social norms often and have yet to experience a ghost town (I envy your experience) ; so I seek parks and forest preserves. What advice would you give a young man like myself who cant find peace at heart away from the hustle and bustle of a college campus?

  • Yes, that’s exactly what I love about small towns–that cycle of give and take! I think there’s a whole different feel when you actually know your neighbors and you feel a sense of genuine connection.

  • I remember that busy college feel well! Though I lived at home, so I had some separation from the fast-paced campus life. That’s great that you’re able to spend some time immersed in parks and forest preserves. I actually wrote a whole list of ideas to create peace of mind just recently:

    http://tinybuddha.com/blog/40-ways-to-create-peace-of-mind/

    These are really just little things, but I find the little things make a big difference!