I love my Mother dearly. Let’s start off with that so there’s no confusion. But when I think about the beginnings of my journey towards a more simple life, I must begin with her. My Mom grew up in the Ilocos Norte province of the Philippines. To say that she lived a modest life is certainly putting it mildly. With her sense of adventure and ambition she ended up in Canada when she was just 21 years old, completely on her own. Eventually she met my Dad (who moved to Canada from Denmark when he was just 21 – also completely on his own!). They worked hard, saved up some money, had two kids and bought a house together. Eventually my Dad’s business started to prosper and for the first time in both of their lives they started to live comfortably. Comfortable enough to go on yearly vacations, and to buy stuff. And then more stuff.
It wasn’t that my Mom hoarded things, but she certainly liked to shop (and still does to this day). I can’t blame her for liking things. Things she never dreamed of having when she grew up.
But we are so different. While things give my Mom comfort, they stress me out. To put it more accurately, too many things stress me out. I don’t know why this is, but I have felt this way probably since I was a teenager. And then there was the Arctic. When I was 22 years old I was given the experience of a lifetime to do archaeological work on a remote Arctic island (Somerset Island if you’re interested). A twin otter plane set us down on a hard shale beach (no landing strips) on what was to be our home for the next 2 months. There was no sign of modern civilization anywhere. Just 100% nature. If you wanted to bathe, there’s the pond (with caribou dung in it). If you wanted to drink, there’s the pond (with caribou dung in it). I could write a book on that experience, and the following year’s when I returned, but for the sake of this blog post, I will say that it was a profound experience to live submersed in nature like that. The only sound, and I mean only, was the sound of our voices and the battery operated cassette player. Every now and then a twin otter plane would fly above, and the sound was jarring.