This I Believe

Laurie - Frankfort, Kentucky
Entered on April 25, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe in less.

I am a glutton for less.

All my grandparents were born in Norway. They had less, but not by choice. When he was twelve, my maternal grandfather ran away from his cold island poverty and his cold sea captain uncle. The “less” in his life had calloused him, chapped his hands raw and bloody, made him strong.

My paternal grandmother had fled from her “less” at age 13. Her poverty made being a scrub maid in Brooklyn look almost brilliant.

My less is voluntary. I have no electricity, running water or phone. Our log cabin, hand made by my husband and son (with no machines, save one borrowed saw) is small, about 18’ x 22’. No power lines tether us, weight us, befuddle us. The quiet is power; the woods nurturing; the solace filling. Perhaps peace requires less.

Our son and daughters had less. No hours of T.V. time translated into time riding horses, building forts, feeding orphan calves, reading, painting, singing, cradling newborn puppies, knowing life in real time. They won top awards and were all valedictorians of their school, summa cum lauds in their colleges…because they had less? Because they filled empty fields with the cosmic energy of imagination? I have few answers, but much respect for them. They made themselves. They had little and from that they transcended us, and are, today, creative, happy, accomplished people with loved, loving children of their own (also raised without T.V.)

Our son embraced his version of less with whimsy and balance. With no horsepower, no engine, no handlebars, he rode his unicycle from North Carolina to Arizona. No back up, no cell phone, no emergency plan… just one wheel. That one wheel gave him book length adventures no one in a speeding car could ever have. Speed blurs the country, dulls it down. No car or truck could have reached the wilderness family (New Mexico) he met and stayed with. They were so self-sufficient they went to town only once a year. They raised their own food and when our son was scrubbing potatoes to help with supper, one of the children said, “Don’t worry about washing the potatoes too much. We eat a lot of dirt around here.”

When our son left, the family packed up all ten children, the milk cow for the baby, a packhorse, their bird, their blind puppy, food and water, and they guided him out of their remote mountain home. They camped out under the stars; heated rocks to keep their bird warm through the night.

The “less” for our twin daughters began at the moment of birth. No nurse, no doctor, no monitor or equipment or hospital. They were born in the bucket seat of an old compact car. No harsh noises or lights or drugs, just less. They were born happy and grew into strong, beautiful beings who never see the glass half empty. They are indomitable spirits, both excited and exciting as artists.

My husband (of 40 years) had so little money when he put himself through school, he would drink a lot of water to try to ease his hunger. His brand of less made him amazingly strong and self-reliant.

I had four years of experiencing “less” when I lived with the Andean and Navajo Indians. The dirt floor of the Hogan meant less time on floor cleaning and more time for art. The children drew pictures with sticks on the floor, invented games with pebbles and rocks and played shoe games. They had so little and did so much.

Our wedding was a serenade of simple. The Navajo gave us a wedding. I had less to do, no… I had nothing to do but show up. They made my dress, my belt, my jewelry, and all the food. They gave me blessings and when my Navajo father said he considered me to be his own daughter, I cried. He said he would tool his finest silver to make my wedding ring. I cried again.

If that is less, give me more of it.

We need less warring, less hatred less selfishness and greed. We need less intrusion into the natural world and more respect for all creatures.

I believe in less.