My friend D.L. Mayfield has been hosting a series at her blog about “Downward Mobility,” what it looks like to pursue less stuff and, in doing so, live more fully. When she asked me to contribute, all I could think was how I should not be the poster child for pursuing less stuff. I heart stuff. (Clothes? Toys? Random Kitchen Gadgets? I’m in a constant battle to practice simplicity.)
But the good news, the beautiful thing about my life in the city, is that something external is forcing me to simplify. Honestly, there’s only so much space. And God is “helping” my stuff-collecting tendencies by giving me a lovely community full of people living simply and beautifully (with kids) in the city.
Here’s some of my musing on why I didn’t choose Downward Mobility, but it is choosing me…
This first year back in San Francisco, I’ve wondered, What are we doing here? I’m raising two boys in an apartment, even though I know we could spend the same on a big house in another part of the country. I drive as little as possible (parking is difficult) and when I do, I cram my car in the world’s tiniest garage. (I’ve scraped it about forty-five times in the past ten months.) I’ve had to simplify my wardrobe and keep it simple. (My petite closet demands so.) Fog or sunshine, I’m forced to get my kids to the park in order to burn off their energy (and then forced to get to know the people around me on that playground, doing the same thing). My son has Korean friends and Chinese friends and Jewish friends and he and I have had a lot of conversations about race and beliefs. I live above neighbors who don’t have kids, who don’t like noise, and I have cried tears over our situation with them, but I’ve also been forced to have compassion for them, respect them, and work towards peace with them. In other words, this city is refining me. Challenging me. And in some ways, accidentally turning me radical.
Yes, my husband commutes an hour to work. Yes, I’m not thrilled with the school where my son is starting Kindergarten. But, I’m confronted daily with severe beauty and severe brokenness. In the city, I can’t pretend that the world is a simple place. I can’t pretend that we don’t need God.
It’s refining me. But it’s not refining me alone. I’m surrounded by friends who remind me that living in the city with kids is not only possible, it’s good.
Did I choose Downward Mobility? No. I think it chose me.
I’d love for you to read the rest over at D.L. Mayfield’s blog. Find it here.