The Simple Life

Visiting Day

Last year, my husband and I drove through the Pennsylvania Dutch Country, arriving early on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  Our drive took us through verdant farmland and modest houses.  We found an appealing Bread and Breakfast, a former mansion circa 1845, and we settled in.

After an early dinner, I took a walk along the country road while my husband attended to business on his computer.  The sun was low in the sky and I figured to walk about a mile in each direction.  Sunday is “Visiting Day” among the Amish and Mennonites, a day to travel to the homes of relatives and friends.  The clip-clop of horses and greetings of the occupants of each buggy as it passed peppered my walk and made it most pleasant.  Each time I passed a farmhouse, I was warmly greeted.  At each house, adults sitting on the steps chatted while children enjoyed physical activity, all savoring the last rays of the sun before going inside to a home with no electricity.

English: Amish children playing baseball, Lynd...

Up and down the road I heard the clip-clop of horses and, what was even more foreign to my ears, the sounds of children laughing and whooping with the joy that comes from pure play.  I couldn’t help but think back to the “real world” : children in vans are entertained by TV screens; passengers on airplanes plug into headsets; children on trains are silently engaged with their MP-3 players or electronic games; boys and girls with parents in museums have their heads down, looking at handheld electronic devices, the parent beside them is on an Iphone.  It seems that we thwart human interaction by allowing videos, computers and electronic gadgets to get in the way.  What ever happened to good old-fashioned conversation?Wouldn’t it be nice — if only once in a while — to get back to the days where youngsters played outdoors until the sun set, where adults would sit and talk over the affairs of the day, where a group of children ages 5 to 15 could all find something to whoop about while running around with nothing but their bodies and some elementary toys to keep them happy?  The sounds those children made were so sweet.  In our world, we are bombarded by the bleeps, clicks, dings and bells of our electronic companions.  It would be so nice if we could only keep things a bit simpler. 

I think about that summer walk and about how peaceful it all was.  Perhaps they have the right idea.  Simplicity.  Family values.  Conversation.  Fresh air.  And no fences.


  1. A few months ago, I attended a memorial service for a family member. Later, back at his house, a couple of dozen of us were sitting in the living room. The age range was five to about sixty-five. As I looked around, I noticed that almost every person in the room was staring at a phone, laptop, or iPad. That group of people will never be together in one place again, and it would have been the perfect time to talk about memories and feelings. But we might as well have been thousands of miles apart.

    Great post, Arlene. I’m glad you got a taste of the simple life, if only for a little while.

    • Thank you for your astute comment. I appreciate your sharing your experience. We’ve all had them!!

    • That may be the best story I’ve heard for summing up what’s happening to us!

  2. So true!! And some studies have shown that those eLeashes are literally addictive. The asynchronous “reward” thing [Ding! You have mail!] taps into the same dopamine business as, for example, gambling addiction. Surveys turn up myriad important things (shoes, sex) that people would give up before they would surrender their eLeashes.

    I can’t help but wonder where it all leads. Will those people on the ship in Wall-E be our future?

    • How true, how true. And yet, many Ethings are worthwhile (my blog??) and make our lives lots easier. I only wish we could put it all in perspective. Yesterday at the pool in my local Y, I saw a father “watching” his children play in the water. His head was down THE ENTIRE TIME presumably iphoning and texting. How sad.

      • Good point! It’s really a two-edged sword, isn’t it. It’s been a major benefit in my work, for one thing, and it’s been amazing for self-education. But those eLeashes so many are attached to… that’s worrisome to me. As you say, too many people are head down in them too often.

      • Once again, you’re Spot On! It’s always good to find a similar-thinking reader.

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