day 265: the hard way

 wikipedia image
 The Maasai are a semi-nomadic people that began in the Nile Valley hundreds of years ago and now make their home in a large strip of land that extends from Kenya down into northern Tanzania.  They are about 900,000 strong and have retained their ancient ways of sheep and cattle herding, and though they live amongst wild game they refuse to eat game or birds.  What makes this tribe especially unique and even respected is that they are able to farm in desert and scrub land, where no one else has seemed to be successful.

photo of painting my son brought home from Kenya
I get a strange kind of jealous feeling when I learn about people that perpetuate a traditional lifestyle.  It is not that I particularly want to live that way, but it is a mysterious and amazing, and even beautiful, thing when old ways are preserved and the difficult path is chosen.  The fact that these people probably feel like they are not making a choice- that it is just "the way", doesn't matter to me. 

Does living harder refine us?  Does planting and harvesting in a desert make the food more blessed?  Do we need more trials?  More time away from ease?  Rhetorical questions, but ones to ask myself every now and then.  To check in.  To take inventory. 

9 comments

TechnoBabe | May 11, 2010 at 4:59 AM

I don't know if I have become a sissy but I just do not want any more huge trials and tribulations in my life. I feel like I have live ten lives already. Yes I have grown and learned and become a better person through the troubles and pain. I can even say I am grateful for the tough times. I just please please do not want any more.

Jenny | May 11, 2010 at 6:58 AM

Trails do make us better people and give us a chance to show our faith. This comes from the experience the trial offers us.

I have often wondered the same things, as I read about the Amish. Would I be happier living a simpler life style? I am not sure, I do know that my mom has told me time and time again that the Lord knew that I could handle all that I have going on today. So that is what I am focused on, Today.

gigi | May 11, 2010 at 7:42 AM

Thoughtful indeed :)

Heidi Ashworth | May 11, 2010 at 7:52 AM

This is going to sound bad, but yes, I think people need more trials--except for me. I've got plenty. The hard way is THE way and I am incredibly grateful for each and every one of them. Then again, that would be saying that I feel I have more troubles than most others and that's not right b/c most everyone has as many challenges as they can deal with. Thinking about what that means makes things even worse so I don't. However, I do believe that many of us in the very comfy U.S. of A. could use more challenges than we are getting. (For example, Larry Hagman observes one day of silence per week as a form of discipline. There's someone who realizes that challenges are good for the soul.)

Kazzy | May 11, 2010 at 7:53 AM

Interesting, H. I never knew that.

Juliana | May 11, 2010 at 10:35 AM

I've recently become a believer in the sentiment that one must taste the bitter to enjoy the sweet. And, unfortunately, that's not a one time event--it has to happen in small or large ways continuously. We don't have to enjoy the painful times (that's the point, right?) but we can still appreciate the perspective they give us. (Says the lady who just whined her way through all the ups and downs of pregnancy...)

Luann | May 11, 2010 at 10:39 AM

Good questions. I've heard that the tomatoes I grow in my garden are better for me than the ones I buy at the store.

A trial is in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps the Masai think our lifestyle is nuts, with all the distractions, fracturing of time and focus, and outside influences that we allow into our lives.

I remember one of my psychology profs at BYU asking, when is someone most in the mood to fold laundry? The answer is, when they've been folding laundry already. In a broader sense, we find ourselves drawn to a lifestyle that is what we know. What we have done before. How we were raised.

Changing things up can be a very good thing. Get out of the rut. Break bad habits. Doing this can be difficult, and I guess you could call it a trial. To the Masai, a desert harvest isn't a change because it's always been that way.

But IMHO, no matter how you look at it, taking inventory once in a while is always good.

Heather | May 11, 2010 at 5:20 PM

My husband doesn't get why I put so much time and energy into my vegetable garden when vegetables are relatively cheap, and it will be a while before we can recoup the cost of our new raised bed veggie garden, but there is something very important to our existence on earth in connecting with it, in being a part of our food. I don't want to be a subsistence farmer or anything, but growing my own vegetables does put some things into perspective. I am grateful to have a computer to come back to though. Sometimes I do long for a more tradition based lifestyle, and a closer sense of community, but I wouldn't trade it for the privacy and autonomy I enjoy in our lifestyle.

Charlotte | May 11, 2010 at 7:57 PM

I've always been fascinated by those who live a traditional lifestyle with little changes over many generations. I ask myself those same questions.