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The beauty of living simple lives

By Rachel McDaniel

Sometimes, simple is best. I take that back. Simple is always best, we just don’t always realize it! We are distracted from simple lives by the extravagance of the world and chaos of cultural and societal norms. 

There are so many local legends who lived simple lives full of love and changed the world – whether they knew it or not! That wasn’t their goal, but it happened all the same. To me, a simple life means loving people more than things, enjoying small moments like watching a colorful, falling leaf  fall to the ground, valuing hard work, not caring who gets the credit and reaping the harvest in a way that helps humanity for generations to come. 

Rosalee King and her siblings were honored as the oldest siblings in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records. But their main goals in life were to live honest, fulfilling lives by taking care of their families and all those in need around them – and enjoying the small moments. 

Still, with their local and global reach, they shared the importance of living simple, honest lives and caring for others – and of course honoring God!

Visits with Rosalee were like a breath of fresh air. No matter what she was struggling with as she approached 104 years old, she put all that aside and made us all feel like the most special people on earth. And no matter how stressed out or upset I was when she walked in the office for all her years as a columnist, I always felt so much better by the time she left. 

She and all her siblings are among the many heroes I’ve met in my 13 years at the Pike County Journal Reporter

They cared more about taking care of family and making ends meet than about driving flashy cars or living in elaborate homes. Telling a story that made someone smile or feel better was more important than having other people think they were important. 

Another local hero of the simple life recently passed away – Riley Shackelford. He was a down to earth farmer who lived his entire life in Pike County. He helped me by providing me photos for the Images of America: Pike County book that I put together for Arcadia Publishing. At the time, my youngest daughter was around 4 months old and I often had to take her with me when gathering photos for the book. That day, he held her while I scanned the images and made notes of the appropriate information. It was a small thing. But it wasn’t. It was someone caring for others. And he adored my fat little Lily. From that day forward, any time I saw him around town or in our office, he asked about Lily. He remembered her being a squishy little baby but he cared about how she was growing. And I know he would have helped her in his simple ways – giving me tomatoes or letting her have figs at his house.

He and so many other Pike citizens have taught my daughters – and me – the importance of community and living simply. 

Riley Shackelford would call me and ask me to come take pictures of his butterfly bush every year. I looked forward to the invite. Sometimes, I took my kids so he could visit with his favorite not-so-squishy kid, Lily. It was a step back in time to the simplicity of life how it used to be. My kids loved it. 

There are too many others to mention who have shown me how simple is better. 

Farmers who go to work each day for little income but a fulfilled life and a full understanding of the circle of life. 

Public servants who care enough to fight each day through a tough job to take care of those around them in the most difficult of circumstances. 

Teachers who put the needs of their students and families of students before their own on a regluar basis. 

Elected officials and appointed officials who do their very best to make sure citizens are taken care of and the county is growing in the right ways. 

Store clerks who deal with thousands of customers a week but still keep a smile on their faces as they provide essential services. 

Our world would be so much better if we stopped striving for material things and instead, cared about others and lived simple, fulfilled lives like those of Rosalee and Riley. 

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