Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Craving the simple life...

I've been loving the Channel 4 documentary "Living with the Amish"... I've always found it fascinating that there is a group of people who live without electricity, without cars, without all the conveniences of modern day living... running water, indoor bathrooms, modern technology... and yet, weirdly, I find it all quite attractive. I'm a BIG Beverly Lewis fan, love any documentaries on them, and was raised by a woman whose favourite film is "The Witness" (perhaps it runs in my blood!)

Seven years ago, I was privileged enough to travel to Pennsylvania Dutch Country, home to over half a million Amish. We steam-trained through Amish farmland... through cornfield, after cornfield, after cornfield, without a telegraph pole in sight. White barns surrounded by orchards and horsedrawn buggies lining the streets... it was like stepping back in time! We tried out Amish food at Smoketown's Good n'Plenty restaurant, we stepped into an Amish home at Bird-in-Hand's (yes, that's the name of the town!) Amish Experience and we even had a buggy ride with a real Amish man called Chris (unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take photographs of him - but we got the horse!!)

Despite all the things I'd miss (i.e. telephone, laptop, camera, car, electricity, hot shower, running water etc etc) I find something strangely attractive about the simplicity of life these people have. Family and community is at the heart of everything they do and watching the documentary, and reading the books, has only cemented that opinion. We get so caught up in all the luxuries of modern technology, that I think at times we lose sight of what really matters... is all this technology killing the art of communication? Is the motor responsible for the break-up of large wider family units? Is the ease and speed of life stopping us from having time to stop and think and simply be??

I think we definitely have something to learn from our Amish friends, and if you haven't seen it, you should def watch Channel 4s "Living with the Amish" on Catch up (and check out some Beverly Lewis novels if you like a good bit of fiction!!)

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