Tag Archives: lifestyle

amish in todays world

16 Oct

amishImagine living in a world with no automobiles, no electricity, and no modern day technology. Your days are long and revolve entirely around the sun [hot summers and long cold winters]. Once the sun sets, your only form of light is that of your battery operated lantern. Your attire is simple yet strict and very conservative. Your family is large, tight-knit and religious. Your horse and buggy take you from Point A. to Point B. and your most recent updated piece of technology is your flush toilet and washing machine. Can you picture it? Some may classify this as the simple life. It’s hard to believe that way back when this used to be the norm, this was everyday America. We lit our homes by candle light, a wood burning stove warmed our homes and we hung our clothes out to dry. We were self sufficient, relying entirely on ourselves for food, clothes and work. Most Americans have grown and since moved out of this self sufficient way of life. However, for some this continues to be everyday life, even up to this present day. Imagine growing up Amish in today’s rapidly growing and ever changing society.

Being Amish is more than a religion; it’s a way of life. Their lifestyle is what many of us might consider old-fashioned. They seem to appreciate the finer things in life such as [timefamily and independence] as opposed to [wealthfame and fortune]. Personally, I’ve always known of the Amish- heard of them, maybe seen them in passing, but I had never seen them in their own environment, living their day to day lives. This past weekend I visited Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Lancaster is home to more than 30,000 Amish, making it both the largest and oldest Amish community in the United States. I pictured Lancaster as a small village populated merely by Amish families, each living in houses too small and surrounded by endless farms. Cliché? Yes, probably, but I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I knew Lancaster County is a tremendously well known tourist area with thousands of tourists visiting on an annual basis, but I couldn’t fully understand how or why anyone would want to visit. What qualified as a visit? Would the Amish go on living their day to day lives as we (non-Amish) stopped, stared, pointed, gawked and asked questions? It seemed a little rude in my opinion, yet as humans we have a tendency to be overly interested in anything different so naturally, I was curious.

A few miles outside of Intercourse, PA, I witnessed a horse trotting down the main road with a buggy rightamish 2 behind it. I thought, “well there’s something you don’t see everyday“. Not even 100 feet behind was another one, just trotting along, keeping up with the flow of traffic. It was a distinct sound, the clicking and clanking of the horses shoes hitting the concrete and the rumble of the thin buggy tires moving over the blacktop. Overall, Intercourse was what I had expected. No, there was no stopping or staring (okay, maybe a little staring), but mostly because I was genuinely curious and intrigued by their lifestyle. As we drove down the main road or walked through town, I realized how friendly and genuine the Amish were. Not that I expected them to be rude, but I wasn’t sure what their reaction would be to the idea of myself, along with a thousand other outsiders visiting simply to see them.. That and maybe some shopping.

The town of Intercourse was small and quaint with acres of open land, corn fields and cute brick farmhouses. I was surprised to see Amish homes mixed in with non-Amish neighbors and at first, it took a while to distinguish between the two. Their homes were large, nicely maintained, made mostly of brick and each displaying one single candle in each of the front windows. At the end of each driveway was a barn-garage where they kept their horses with a buggy parked out front. Laundry was hung out to dry precisely in color and size order. Their outfits were simple and entirely lacking detail. The women wore solid colored dresses covered with a black apron. Their hair was neat and tightly secured in a bun, which was covered by a white bonnet. Men wore a solid, dark suit, no pockets and suspenders, as well as a straw or black hat. It was picture perfect America. The men worked in the yard, cultivating the crops and keeping up on yard work, while the woman cooked, cleaned and kept up with everyday house chores. Children played in the yard with any make-shift toy they could find, all the while laughing with not a single care in the world.

amish 4Tonight, I lay on the left hand side of my bed; laptop on my lap with my bedroom light on, trying to imagine what life would be like as a young Amish girl. For one, I would probably be married with a couple of children by this point. Earlier in life, I would have attended a small schoolhouse with approximately 30 other children. A teenage girl would have been my teacher and I would either roller skate or scooter my way to class. By the age of 13, I would have received all my required education and would begin working around the house with my family. By age of 16, I would be given freedom to experience the English world before getting baptized. I would be given the opportunity to make the ultimate decision, do I want to follow the Amish lifestyle or do I want to leave it behind? Sunday’s would be devoted to God and the church and in turn there would be no work. Church would last about 3 hours followed by a large hearty lunch afterwards. The days are repetitive, the children are well disciplined and every life choice is a direct reflection of God.

It’s hard to imagine what life would be like without the everyday necessities we have become accustomed too. Each day we wake up to an alarm, turn on our bedroom light and proceed to take a hot shower. After, we probably check Facebook, upload our latest ‘selfie’ onto Instagram and send a quick text to our best friend, possibly even before we get out of bed. We then get in our gas or electric operated car and proceed to drive to our traditional 9-5 job, maybe stopping along the way for a Dunkin coffee or a doughnut. By this point, it’s not even noon and we’ve already used electricity, taken a hot shower and driven a car.

I suppose when you grow up in a certain environment, with specific values and culture, you don’t know any different.amish 3 Lights, automobiles and cell phones all become second nature, especially when you use them on a daily basis. However, if we had never previously been exposed to such technology we wouldn’t miss it. I think with the Amish it’s different though. The majority of American’s live in a similar world, some may have more than others, but the option is there for equality among all citizens. For the Amish, some may say they live in a bubble. However, that bubble is surrounded and intertwined with non-Amish families. They may ride a horse and buggy to the local market, but they are doing so alongside a family driving a truck, with the kids in the backseat listening to their Ipod while texting on their Iphone. It must be difficult to live life differently than your neighbors in a society that is so technologically advanced. The differences between me and an Amish girl are significant, but in the end we are each experiencing the same life, just with different outlooks.