One day a while back, I was out with my girls on one of our days filled with classes and errands. We'd just stopped by the feed store, and the back of the SUV was full of bags of feed and hay.
The smell of the hay covered everything with a gentle perfume of real, and as I breathed in the scent, I listened to my daughters who were prattling on about their electronic devices, their iPods or Nintendo DSs.
Once upon a time, I was accused of having selective hearing, and honestly (perhaps unfortunately), when it comes to the electronics, I do tend to tune out the comments, which I find tedious.
I appreciate that these devices have some value. I liked, for instance, being in contact via text mail, with some friends and family members while we were traveling, and, obviously, I very much appreciate the Internet and what it offers.
Yet, at the same time, I think we tend to place too much emphasis on these wonderful technologies to the point that we, modern humans, are incapable of doing anything for ourselves. When the technologies fail - and they do - too many people find themselves at a loss.
Recently, the phone and Internet service here at home was out for five days. It was inconvenient, but I didn't spend hours worrying about not having that connection to the outside world. I performed my usual, daily activities, and when I had time, I dealt with trying to get my phone and Internet back up and running. It was inconvenient to not have email and Facebook for a few days, but when all was restored, I realized I hadn't missed a lot.
As we traveled along the road breathing deep the scent of the hay and listening to the techno-babble, the reality of my life struck me funny, and I, quite literally, laughed - out loud.
I read an article or saw a news report some time ago about Chinese peasants (in these reports it's always someone in some very remote and/or very exotic place that most of us will never visit). As is typical of these reports, the people were depicted as living in "squalor", which is to say, not like us. They lived in some remote, mountain village had a small (neat and clean), sparsely furnished home with no indoor plumbing. Electricity, if available, would have been limited and/or sporadic. They had a small garden where they grew most of their own vegetables, and a pig or two, raised in a small pen, was their protein source.
The object of video article was actually not to draw attention to plight of the Chinese peasants, but rather to report on the interesting contrast of their very simple lifestyles with the fact that a higher percentage of Chinese people, from every walk of life, including those who live in remote mountain villages and raise pigs in the front yard, have cellphones than any other nationality worldwide.
And that's what I thought about, driving my ten-year-old SUV, the back of which was full of chicken feed and hay, while listening to my daughters chatter about their electronic gadgets.
Unlike the reporter of the piece on cellphones, however, who seemed to be, almost, criticizing that lifestyle of living simply while enjoy some pretty advanced technology, that's exactly the kind of lifestyle I'm drawn to, and the more I shy away from modern conveniences, the more my life tends to resemble that Chinese peasant.
At some point, I found that I was aspiring to live like a Chinese peasant - in a modest home with limited modern amenities and some pretty high-tech gadgets.
When the reality of that aspiration hit me, I laughed again, out loud, and my daughters stopped their banter and looked at me.
Smiling, I just glanced over, and shook my head.
"Nothing," I said. "Life is just good. That's all."