It Really is a Gift to be Simple

David - Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Entered on February 18, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

It Really is a Gift to be Simple

“Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free, tis a gift to come down where we ought to be, and when we find our selves in the place just right; we’ll live in the valley of love and delight.” Those are the words to an old American folk song written by a religious group called Shakers. This song is called “Simple Gifts.” The song talks about being simple and free and how things will fall into place when the time is right. This is a very old song but I think it can still stand the test of time. I believe that it’s the simple things in life that makes life beautiful and free.

When I think of simplicity, I think of my peace place. Everybody has a peace place. It’s that place where you can go to get away from the problems of the world whether figuratively or an actual place. My peace place is a place of solitude and joy for me.

Every summer I go to a church camp just outside of Wausau, Wisconsin. It’s the best two weeks of my year. At the camp, there is a tiny lake that only small fishing boats and canoes can go on. The lake is surrounded by deep forest. It’s almost like it should have been closed off from the rest of the world. The best view of the lake is on a ridge at the camp. There is a small bench to sit and admire the beauty of nature. Below the ridge is a fire pit and arena like seating. The best part of this area is the giant, wooden Cairo behind the pit.

The most beautiful part is the deep sunsets. Just imagine a bright, summer sun, setting over the most serene lake imaginable. You watch the sun fall over the now redding and oranging sky, yet you also see the sun reflect off the water so it’s as if two suns are becoming one and then it’s gone. It’s so peaceful and almost mind numbing.

Once we start looking at things in a simple way, then we can become free. I mean, how many of us have felt the pressure to succeed in school or in a job? How many of us have been in a relationship and try so hard and yet things pile up and it ends up crumbling? We make life a series of questions and answers, instead of being amazed at every day occurrences. Life becomes so complicated that we miss the best parts, the small parts.

How many people recently have stopped what they are doing and just watched clouds move? It’s one of my favorite things in the world. Clouds are so beautiful and the individuality of their shapes is amazing to me. Even as a kid I swore I could see these massive pictures moving. What happened to the child like innocence? Why do we take these for granted?

I think people need to seek for beauty and joy rather than knowledge and truth. This will make your life so much better. Think of a person who is the happiest person you have ever met. Have you ever asked them why they are so happy? If you have, their answer is usually, “I don’t know. It’s just what I do.” I know I have heard that before.

If more of us smiled at random people we saw, instead of scowled, we may have less people committing suicide. If more of us listened, we could stop war from happening. And if more us decided to watch the trees rustle in the wind, we could understand why our environment is important to us. Once life becomes simple, other things like knowledge, kindness, and friendship will follow shortly after.

Again all I ask is to try. It’s a simple request but that’s what life is all about. Life is just a list of simple requests that we choose to react to. Here’s just another simple thing to add onto that list, be yourself and the beauty and freedom of the world will come to you. Just as the sunsets to start a new day in the valley of love and delight.