“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