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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Monday May 27th 2024

PCH: The Simple Life

Rose Tillemans and the Peace House Community in an undated photo found in the Peace House Community photo albums.

By MARTI MALTBY

a photo of the author
Marti Maltby

Rose Tillemans, the founder of Peace House Community, would have celebrated her 100th birthday on February 11. In honor of the event, I went through some of PHC’s old photo albums to put together a small memorial for our website.
Although the photos were taken before I joined PHC and showed many people I never met, I felt a connection to the faces in the photos. That connection was not just based on having PHC in common. The photos showed simple, everyday activities that we all participate in, like sharing a cup of coffee, or singing together, or playing a board game. I’m not sure how to explain the connection I felt, but I think it could be best summed up with the phrase, “That looks like fun. I wish I could do that.”
Of course, I can do that. It doesn’t take much to call a friend, go for a walk, chat with a neighbor, or say hi to someone. But so often it feels like I don’t have time to do something as frivolous as relaxing. I know I’m not alone in that thought. I keep hearing from others how busy they are.
The sad thing is that we often lie to ourselves when we say we’re busy. I remember my mom carting me and my two brothers around to our various events, even though we lived outside the city and had a 20 minute drive one way to our school. She would load us into the car after she cooked the family dinner without a microwave or prepackaged meals, and cleaned the dishes without a dishwasher. She kept us on schedule using paper and pencil, not an electronic calendar. All my friends’ parents did the same thing for their kids.
Like so many others, I am “busy” because I have allowed the technology that was supposed to give me free time, take up that free time. We are often more concerned with Facebook than with our friends. Instead of taking up hobbies like playing an instrument, we plan how we can monetize all of our activities. We panic if we lose our phones because we have (often quite literally) lost the ability to function on our own. We can’t call anyone by ourselves because we’ve lost the ability to memorize phone numbers (even our own). We’ve forgotten the days when we could walk next door to ask to borrow an egg for the recipe we are making (you know, back when we baked cookies instead of buying them). And heaven forbid we ever get stuck out in the wilds, like all those poor souls who go camping on the weekends.
None of what I am saying is new, of course. Many people have been warning that we would end up here as we became more dependent on technology. Those of us who didn’t pay attention lament our loss of freedom, even as we embrace the technology that enslaves us. Fortunately, there are those who keep their lives simple. Many of them can be found in the campgrounds, or playing the violin, or simply chatting with their neighbors. I thank them for the example they set, and I pray that the rest of us can follow in their footsteps.

Marti Maltby is an avid cyclist, Director at Peace House Community, and an obnoxiously proud Canadian.

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