Thursday, April 16, 2009

Keeping It Real *Simplicity*

The issue of *SIMPLICITY* keeps coming up over and over in my life. Simplicity is the sister to *CONTENTMENT*, and together they equal: *HAPPINESS* in the most genuine form.

I rarely buy anything for my home, and when I do, it's heavily discounted. I admit it; I'm not just frugal, I'm downright cheap. If you visited my home, you might be tempted to think I intended to decorate. Actually, it evolved over the course of my many years, and is accumulations of gifts from friends, inherited artwork from long-dead relatives, or stellar finds at the local Goodwill. I am an opportunist where deals are concerned and love to shop at flea markets.

I have a pretty home and comfy surroundings. But if I had to live in a tent, I would make it comfy too. I would find joy in the sunrise, in my health, in the ability to breath and pray for others. Our society preaches MORE! MORE! MORE!, but I believe that is a lie. Over my 40-some-odd years of living, I have aquired a lot. But the *stuff* I have isn't all of a use to me. Would it be to someone else??? This is the question I am struggling with.
Even the most humble home today seems extravagant compared to the homes of average Americans 40 years ago. What most would consider a *rent-house* or at best a *starter home* would have been the average abode for a family of 4-6 in 1968. One bathroom, small closets, and about 12oo square feet was the norm. Look at us now. When I hear stories of people with walk in pantries, heated toilet seats, and closets as big as my guestroom, it amazes me. I understand there is no sin in being wealthy, but it amazes me regardless! We seem to need so much room to hold so much STUFF!
I once offered my brother a set of ornamental tables that had belonged to our Mother. He rejected them and I couldn't understand why? Later my Aunt passed. I inherited more *knick-knacks* and *stuff* that had belonged to her and held sentimental value. As I tried to pack it all in my already cluttered home, I realized he wasn't refusing Mothers memory. He was trying to keep his balance. I now understand. But the question of what to keep and what to give away isn't so simple. If I give away something useless but pretty, am I just enabling someone else? I hope not. And there is nothing wrong with having something pretty, like a picture, or a piece of art. Although I admit my favorite pictures are 20 years old, and made from macaroni and crayon.

I have friends who also share my passion for simplicity and contentment. They inspire me daily with their choices to be happy... so find beauty in God, and His creations. We share our thoughts on the little things that bring us joy. This in itself is a wonder to me.

On the other hand, I know of people who wear simplicity as if they were shackled to it... as if it was a burden. Even though they have more than enough to eat, a roof over their heads, and their health, they whine, moan and lament about their lot in life. As if they have been victimized by society,... as if they are the butt of a cruel joke. I do not understand this mentality. Many of these people I speak of are lazy. They have *expectations* that society should provide for them.

I suspect television is the reason so many are so unsatisfied. It's a gadget, just like a computer, or telephone, or wheel for that matter. But it can be abused. The message sent out is: What you have isn't good enough.... you need the newest version of __________, and it doesn't matter that what you already have isn't worn out. Just buy it. We need to be careful what our little eyes see.
Have you heard of; *Peace Pilgrim*?
She walked to bring attention to simplicity and peace.
Now, as I purge my collection of *stuff* I will try to keep what is sufficient.. what is purposeful, and utilitarian. I will also keep some of my mothers belongings, what brings back good memories, and let go of the rest. I will find contentment in that which serves to bring me closer to God, what feeds my body and soul, and leave behind that which diverts my attention from God to what the worlds deems as desirable.
I also will not compare what I have to what others have, more or less. We all walk daily on our journey heavenward, and have different trials, successes, and convictions. I would hope that those who have more than us give a fair amount away. I hope those who have less, never do without what they need, and I pray that I we all do our share to help each other. A person could have lots of money, but still be lonely. A poor person could have their health, while a rich person can't buy it back. Mostly, I wish for my loved ones; contentment. You do not see a U-Haul behind a hearse.
Find you peace in God and your contentment in your ability to help others.. in the simple joys that are present in daily life.

Longfellow said it well:
How beautiful is the rain!
After the dust & heat, In the broad & fiery street,
In the narrow lane; How beautiful is the rain!
How it clatters along the roofs,
Like the tramp of hoofs;
How it gushes & struggles out
From the throat of the overflowing spout.
Isn't that an example of an overlooked joy?
Have fun finding yours.
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