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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What a life . . .

Today I had the opportunity to take a group (23) from the retirement community where I work to visit a family who lives in a yurt. The yurt pictured above is not their yurt - but it looks awfully close.

The yurt is located on an organic farm near North Manchester, Indiana. Yurts are not at all common here. The family who lives there consists of mom and dad and two boys, 2 and 4. They are musicians who work with Mennonite and Brethren concerns, especially for children's Christian education. They also work for and support peace efforts.

I have been in yurts in Mongolia, where they call them 'gers.' The Mongols have no electric or plumbing (for the most part), and use woolen felt and canvas for building materials.

This yurt was 'modern' by Mongol standards. Electric and plumbing. But that's it. A 30' diameter tent with a small loft. No TV. Heated by a woodstove (in winter). No A/C.

I was mildly jealous of the simplicity of their lives. First of all was the sense of timelessness. Their time is their own - governed only by the sun, and the rooster who greeted us on our arrival - "Cock-a-doodle-doo! Cock-a-doodle-doo!"

One might not think the yurt had anything to do with this sense of timelessness, but in a way, it has everything to do with it. They've taken a step that is counter to everything modern America strives for - most couples their age, including nieces and nephews in my own family, think that a grand house in the latest sub-division is the paragon of success. (One nephew and his wife live in a three-story monstrosity with whole rooms just for clothes and shoes. They have no children.) And yet, through their choice of a yurt, this couple has said, "Our time is too precious to spend it paying for an over-built, over-priced, showplace of a house." People spend all their lives working to pay for a house and big cars and the latest gadgetry, while, in fact, their lives are passing them by.

Another thing about the simplicity of their lives is their personal avocations. These people are musicians. For our group, they sang a Spanish love song. The four year old is learning to play the ukulele and strummed along with them. In addition to that, they put up their own food, make their own play, and read and write prolificly. When our kids were little, their bedrooms looked like the toy department at Wal-Mart. These kids have a small set of shelves for their toys. And all around are toys they've made . . .a stick village for their toy animals, a ball diamond mowed out of the tall grass, etc.

Finally, the setting itself is wonderful. I think farms are beautiful anyhow, but this farm inparticular is exemplary. There are three families that share the main lot of the farm - one lives in the main, old farm house, another lives in a separate house built of field stones, and the third lives in the yurt. The gardens are pregant with fruit. The flowers are everywhere blossoming like sunshine in the yard. Birds and bees fill the air. It's almost like Eden on earth.

What a life they have.

I'm mildly jealous. We live pretty simply in Roann. I don't know if I could make it sacrificing everything like this family has - after all, I do have a whole room just for my library! But it was good for me to visit this family.

It reminds me that I need to take a step back from the hurried pace of my life.

Evaluate what's important.


Ah. What a life it would be . . .