Same same, but different
In Thailand, there’s a touristy shirt we’d see at all the cheap market booths. On the front, it says, “Same Same.” On the back, it says, “Different.” Yeah, I don’t really get it either, except for this general meaning—comparing two things can equally be the same and different.
Chocolate and vanilla ice cream—the same in that they’re both delicious; different because well, they’re different. Taking the bus or the subway home in New York City—they’re the same because they’ll both eventually get you there, but they’re different because you’ll have different experiences along the way.
Same same, but different. I’ve been thinking about that silly t-shirt a lot on this cross-country trip of ours. This trip we’re on, that’s 18 days and 3,500 miles and which doesn’t exactly equal slow travel. In order to celebrate a book that’s about living slow.
Kyle and I were just debriefing a little over dinner tonight while we let the kids play (we’re somewhere in Ohio as I write this, heading to Arkansas for our final meetup for the next few weeks). We asked each other what’s been the favorite parts of our trip so far, and unsurprisingly, it didn’t take us two seconds to answer. We both have the same answer, in fact.
It’s been hanging out with friends, pure and simple.
We’ve walked historic streets, wandered surreal museums, witnessed epic relics, and tasted ridiculous local food. But at the end of the day, the best parts have been a shared meal with friends, laughing while the kids run wild nearby.
We’re basking in the glow of shared experience with friends, old and new. I’m finally meeting friends’ husbands, and it’s been surreal to watch our offspring play together. We’ve celebrated simple evening conversation on living room couches and kitchen barstools, coffee or wine in hand. (And since we’ve only had hours with each kindred spirit, we don’t take this time lightly—my mantra has come in handy the past few days.)
We’ve also loved making new friends, too—you’re teaching me things. I’m hearing why you intentionally live in the sketchy part of town, so that your gifts can be a blessing to others, and so your kids know that life isn’t about privilege. I hear about the freedom you’ve found from downsizing to a smaller space, even though your family and friends have thought you nuts. Or why you only eat chocolate when you can afford the good stuff, because otherwise it doesn’t sit well with you to have the questionable stuff in your pantry.
And in all this, you live on a 14-acre homestead in North Carolina.
Or on the outskirts of a big city because the schools are better.
Or are about to move to Africa to work in the slums or to Germany because your husband works for the government.
Or in a Manhattan highrise, or a brownstone in Queens.
Or you live in Jersey and work full-time for a church you love, even though you hit the hay exhausted.
Or you are choosing to stay planted in the suburbs where you’ve been for years, because your home is the one where the neighbor kids run for a warm, safe, and hospitable place for all.
You’re reminding me that living with intention looks like a million different things, is fleshed out in a thousand different places, and really can be done anywhere, no matter the circumstances.
You guys living in big cities have different hurdles than you who live in the tiny towns, miles from the next neighbor—but you”re making it work because you acknowledge that living simply involves lots of little choices, made day after day after day, one step at a time.
Driving these miles has been a long thread, sewing a patchworked blanket of beautiful souls in my life. You are all living such different lives. And yet, you’re not. There’s a distinctive pattern to this quilt.
All around the world, you are CHOOSING to live differently. You’re saying no to the crazy chaos so much of our culture offers, so that you can say yes to a life that makes sense for you. It looks like a million different messy-beautiful choices, made with intention all day long. You go to bed, then you wake up and you make those choices again.
So be encouraged, readers—you’ve got a big community here who are daring enough to live unconventionally, so long as it means sleeping in peace each night because of wise choices made. You can do this. You can say no to the crazy in order to say yes to life that works. I’m witnessing the many beautiful ways it works.
Same same, but different. Yes, that seems like a good description of what simple living looks like. There’s a universal conviction that living simply involves daily, intentional choices. How that looks is up to you.
Me, driving with travel hair and travel eyes. I’m so delighted Kyle took this photo.
This trip has been a fantastic time for the five of us—bonding, exploring, sharing life with friends. It’s been a crazy whirlwind, and sure, not quite the slow speed we would prefer, but that’s okay. If it’s between taking this trip in the fast lane or not traveling at all, we’ll go fast. We’re grateful to Kia for making it possible, by lending us one of their 2015 Sorentos. It’s a beautiful ride, y’all—we’re thinking we may look into one when we return from our Big Trip next year. That behemoth of a trip where we’ll travel much, much slower.
What choice are you going to make today to live a little simpler? And just for fun, I’d love to know—do you live in a big city, in the ‘burbs, the middle of nowhere, or some other type of place all together?
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