The Simpler Things in Life
by Kimberly Chambi
Growing up, I hardly found myself wondering if I lacked anything because, for the most part, I had everything I needed. Simple things such as clothes, food and a home, which I have come to realize are things that we tend to underappreciate. These fundamentals are often overlooked and lack appreciation, even though it is not secret that there are people in our society who lack these necessities. So naturally, the belief that possessions do not makeup anyone’s value or identity had been engrained in my mind. However, when I was faced with a situation where I lacked most of the commodities I was accustomed to, I found myself searching for the moment in which I had begun to hold that belief up to its standard.
Having a home is sometimes referred to as not only having a concrete structure, but a place you can feel a sense of peace and security. This is why having lived in various apartments during my formative years had not struck me as insufficient. In fact, I hadn’t questioned the quality of my living at all. I figured that as long as I felt happy and content in life, no matter how big or small my home is, that it should be no issue.
Social media played a big part in the change of perspective I grew to have during my teenage years, which are arguably the years in which one begins to question everything about oneself. I began comparing myself to others and their possessions, unknowingly losing that core belief with every scroll through Instagram. From three story houses with more than five bedrooms, to having a pool and a walk-in closet. This constant one-upping coming from every direction can really cause one to lose sight of what reality is and what one should truly value in life. I started to wonder what it would be like to own a house one with a little more space and a room of my own.
When I was eighteen, my family finally made the big decision to purchase a house. The two-story, four-bedroom house was a big step up from our two-bedroom apartment and I felt excited to finally have a room of my own. Despite attaining a room of my own and altogether a bigger space for living, I found myself constantly comparing my new home to those of others. I often wondered what it might be like to have a bigger room or even my own bathroom. I didn’t realize that I was missing the point and allowing these thoughts to dictate how I valued my surroundings.
The year after moving into our new home, I took a trip to my home country of Bolivia. Previously we’d reside at my sister’s apartment, but this year we decided to stay at my grandparent’s house. Upon arriving I noticed many differences to the home I had back here in Virginia. My grandparents were of low-income families, they might’ve not been able to shower my parents with finer things but still they worked hard to build a home for their family. Certainly, it was a humble home, but a home nonetheless. It brought back nostalgia and memories of visiting my grandparents as a child, but now as an adult, I saw it in a different light.
Every brick, every pebble that built the house was stacked with love. From steep and creaky staircase, to the tin roof I could sit atop and stare at the night sky. This house had seen my father and his siblings grow up, and now it still held the same aura of love and care as it did fifty years ago. I had taken much of life’s blessings for granted, I had forgotten the beauty in the simplicity of acts such as having a heater during the grueling wintertime. The simplicity of being able to shower without worrying if the water will run cold due to an underdeveloped plumbing system. It was a wake-up call for me because I found that these little things make such a big difference, yet having all these commodities had caused me to forget how very important they are. This allowed me to appreciate the fact that some people go through this their entire lives. Some don’t even get the chance to attain the bare minimum. Instead of complaining, I began to see that I didn’t need more than what I already had to be happy, even if that meant I had to wash dishes with ice-cold water. What truly mattered was the sentimental value of our home, and that at the end of the day we came together.
(Read all the pieces in This I Believe; featured image from Flickr user gdsteam used under CC BY 2.0)