1. the state, quality, or an instance of being simple.
2. freedom from complexity, intricacy, or division into parts: an organism of great simplicity
We are born with nothing and in the end; we die with nothing. It seems however, that “between the dash” we spend our lives accumulating “stuff” – things that we think we need but really don’t: things, hobbies, collections and just general stuff. George Carlin quips that a home isn’t really a haven but a place to hold all of our “stuff”. His skit is funny, but he makes a valid point.
Look around you, right at this moment – how many of the objects you see, do you really NEED? I am betting if you are honest with yourself, very few. Yet we are consumed with getting something better, faster, flashier, prettier. Then we bring it home and we have to take care of it, charge it, dust it, clean it, and move it so it looks better or has a space more deserving. We are drowning in our “stuff”. Before you think I have perfected this art… I will confess openly, I have not. For me this is a journey. It is an exciting journey, but still, something I am working on. Sometimes I fail, and sometimes I succeed. The feeling of success is what I wish to share with you.
Gandhi was one of the most amazing humans to grace this earth. He walked the earth with very little in his possession. He didn’t believe that “stuff” was important. What he did believe in was simply people, peace, and hope. These are things we cannot possess, which is clearly the point. This man did not die with millions of dollars in his bank account, but clearly he made a mark that changed the world.
Simplicity is defined as Freedom. Freedom? Really? How is that?
Let me share with you my experience. I have gathered fifty years of “stuff” – sentimental, and otherwise. I have the newspaper clipping from when I was born, I have a ceramic fish I made and gave to my parents when I was in second grade, I have countless pieces of art I have created, both finished and unfinished, I have a vase from my grandmother’s funeral, I have notes, and cards from those that sent me love the old fashioned way. I have… well, let’s be honest- much too much. As I age, it seems quite clear to me that it is time to let go of much of this. I live in a modest home, and frankly there isn’t enough room to hang on to every piece of sentimental or otherwise possessions. In reality I have discovered it really isn’t the stuff I treasure but more often the connection to how I gained it, or who it came from. Perhaps it was something from my husband’s grandmother, or my mother – both of whom were important and precious to me. For a while I needed to touch something they have touched. It helped me as I mourned the loss of them; it touched me because I could feel their presence in a physical way. I needed that. It’s not that I miss them any less, but I don’t believe it is possible to capture their essence in the items they may have given me, in the things I associate with them Certainly what keeps them closest is when I speak of them through stories and memories, or touch my heart where I know they will live on for always.
This summer has been about working through some of the process of letting go-Emotionally, spiritually and physically. My goal is to create a more harmonious environment in which to live, and create. My hope is by letting go of “things” that really don’t matter, to simplify, I will be free, life will be easier, and I won’t have to dust nearly as much! I have to say; in what I have eliminated already has been a tremendous gift to me. Also, I was able to help others by donating goods to those more in need than I. I am certainly not suggesting that we purge everything we own; however, perhaps it would be more an honor to those who have loved me and whom I love and treasure to live in a more authentic way – freedom in and of itself is a treasure. It is a treasure that we tend to squander.
I know that I will never be Gandhi. I believe he had three possessions – his glasses, a pen and his sandals. As amazing as that sounds, I know that I could never simplify to that extent. However, that level of simplification did seem to give him a great amount of freedom, no moving truck required. Today I challenge you – as I step up to this challenge as well – to simplify, to be free. Cleanse the negativity in your life, the clutter. Purge what keeps you from living unencumbered.
I wish you simplicity.