Have you ever heard someone say “I gotta get away to the city this weekend, I need to relax!”? Didn’t think so. I lived in Los Angeles for almost 14 years, and now that I live in a small mountain town I see first hand why so many people want to go to the country for the weekend. Los Angeles never stopped – the traffic, the noise, the stores, the street work, the people – it never actually stopped, 24 hours a day. I lived in one of the better parts of Los Angeles (Santa Monica, to be exact) and even I heard parties late at night, loud rap music from cars, and the incessant drone of wheels on pavement. When sleeping, I highly doubt it was ever actually quiet for more than a few minutes at a time. We had a great view during the day of the ocean, for sure – but come nightfall, we could not see any stars. I loved my time in Los Angeles, as it was where I needed to be for that portion of my life. My jobs were there, my friends were there, my life was there. But whenever we took a vacation, it was rarely to a big city but instead to some far away rural place where we could get some peace and quiet. And once I started my own company, I realized that I could spend time in this type of place full time and not just on vacation. My wife is a teacher, so there would always be work for her. We packed up, left the big city, and arrived in a small town in Northern New Mexico.
At first, this move was a big adjustment. I had to learn to really slow down quite a bit more than I was used to, as there isn’t a lot to “do”. But by “do” I mean there are not a lot of places to hang out and spend money. Looking back, I saw that most everything we “did” in our area involved spending cash; here you kind of have to make your own fun. We do a lot of sitting outside and watching the storms roll in, we go hiking, I spend more time reading, doing woodworking, or just laying on the couch watching the world go by. This took a while to get used to, and still sometimes I would love to go walk around the Promenade back in California! But all in all, I would not trade this in – the dark skies, the brilliant Milky Way, the silent nights, and the nice people all add up to a great “country living” experience.
The reason I am writing about this is that this is the simple life that so many talk about, but never experience. Sure, I miss some conveniences sometimes (like 24 hour grocery stores), but if I make my plans in advance and take my time to do what I need to do each day, I don’t get caught without food at 11pm. Because of the pace of life here, this is very easy to accomplish. Life here, while it can be hard in a different way than it was in Los Angeles, encourages one to live a more purposeful, focused life. It’s much easier to see the forest for the trees here.
If you can ever do it, I highly recommend retreating to the country. It can do wonders for your life, your health, your state of mind and your mindfulness of what is important in this life.