When I can, I walk with The Ladies in the mornings. They range in age from sixties to early eighties. We walk up and down the dirt road, two miles in all. It allows lots of time for conversation. Many of them have lived in this tiny town most, if not all, their lives. They talk about the stuff of life, matter-of-fact, and do not dwell on the big questions. They are not blind to the big questions, far from it, but they think that if they pay attention to the details, the big questions will take care of themselves.
It is refreshing to be around them. No one talks about being unfulfilled—they are mostly retired from their jobs as factory workers or assistants, but even if they were still working, you get the feeling they wouldn’t complain. Be grateful to have a job, they would say; work at it earnestly and honestly and treat people the way you would like to be treated.
There is a simple honesty to the life of making do with what you have that is lost in our age of instant gratification. We want more because there is more—it is shoved at us so relentlessly that we have forgotten we have the choice to decide our own happiness.
The Ladies have mastered the art of being content.