I'm off to the Apple Store. Having trouble posting on my blog. Evidently I need to clear my cache, whatever that means.
Can complex thoughts or situations be simple? As with many questions, the answer is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’, which is why examples help. Here is one that comes to mind. My home is full of stuff, definitely not simple to dust or organize. And yet, I try to I live simply among it all, keeping certain areas orderly, not obsessing about all the things around me, and searching for ways distribute what I don’t need to those in need. Simplicity comes when I don’t think or worry about it. Plus, a little out-of-sight-out-of-mind works well.
When I was a kid I spent hours with my friends and siblings on the wooden seesaw my dad made. It was long enough to seat four people on each side, although usually there were just two of us going up and down. When I agreed to seesaw with my little (as in eight years younger) brother, he spent most of the time in the air, and I on the ground. It was a challenge to adapt the rules of seesawing: take turns being up and down and try to find balance. But we managed to enjoy ourselves, even while I was attentive not to let my brother fall and hurt himself.
I am reminded of the current political show going on. No one is following the seesaw rules of fairness and balance. No one is sharing the ups and downs, nor trying not to hurt each other by bumping too hard; no one is striving for balance. In fact, they may never attain the balance needed to give anyone a chance, especially the little brothers and sisters in the world.
After taking a look at the debates last night, it came to me that my call is to be peaceful and positive in thought, word, and deed. Maybe one of the most important gift we older people offer to the world is to live our life with a peaceful mind, few words, and carefully selected deeds.
Of course this is not way of politicians. And then there is the age problem. Many standing there on the stage were old (will be the same for the Democrats). Many would be celebrating their 70th birthday in the White House. 70 isn’t old for some things, but I think it is for a president.
I understand politicians have to talk, but do wish they could ponder the quote by Robert Benchley from www.gratefulness.org that I put on this blog yesterday.
“Drawing on my fine command of the language, I said nothing.”
Enough. I will say nothing more.
Have you ever made up (as in your imagination) something that wasn’t true at all? Made up how someone was reacting to something you’ve said or done? And then, upon reflection realized you have no basis for the story you fabricated? You just made it up, just created an imaginary tale about what was going on in someone else’s head.
I assume you can answer ‘yes’. It’s very human thing to do, but one that we can work to eradicate. For me, it’s part of the challenge to live in silence, the silence of no gossip, no judgments, no rumors. We can start by being honest and intentional about what we do. That, in and of itself eliminates much worry about what others might be thinking, and from there we can come to understand that we are not responsible for other people’s worries.
Case in point. The other day I started making up someone’s response to Very Grateful, the book I wrote about my mom and me. Why? Because I didn’t hear from them when I thought I ‘should’. This got me considering my intention and honesty in writing the book. Yes, I wrote with honest intention; over a period of time I prayerfully and carefully considered what I was writing and how it would be received by others. When I did hear from the person, I realized I had been entirely wrong in those original imaginings. But more than that, I was grateful for the opportunity to separate what I had written with how someone else might respond to it.
I’m thinking about the people who were personally affected by the 9/11 tragedy. Are they able, even fourteen years later, to find silence, solitude and simplicity? Maybe for a moment now and then, but I can’t believe it is easy to calm the mind and get to that centering space.
What about silence, solitude and simplicity for the refugees/ asylum seekers/migrants. We are confused about what to call them, each with a personal story, but let us never forget our common denominator-- human beings, children of God.
The other day I read something to the effect that simplicity and time are connected. If I come across the quote, I’ll post it, but for now I’ll just make up my own thoughts about it. My first draft quote goes like this: Freedom of time is simplicity of living. Nothing profound here; the idea is so obvious that it may have passed us by.
The negative way of talking about time and simplicity is to say that when we have too much to do and not enough time, our life is complicate and prone to stress. There are times in our lives when, unless we are a recluse or a hermit, we have too much going on—not enough time. We do what we can to eliminate some tasks in the hope of reducing stress. However, the life style goes on.
The positive way of talking about time and simplicity to say that when we eliminate our habitual way of doing things our life becomes simple and relaxed. Sometimes we make big changes. I did this for the five winters I went to the cottage-by-the-sea. Once I got there I didn’t feel I had to do anything. I wrote a great of Very Grateful, not out of obligation, but out of longing.
Recently I took up weaving. I wanted to weave as a spiritual practice, but instead the loom on the dining room table reminded me of another obligation. Self-created stress just sitting there. So yesterday I put the loom away. I eliminated the mental stress of one more thing to do after I had done what needed to be done around the house, and after what I really want to do, which is write. Maybe writing is my craft? At the moment, at lease the freedom of time is giving me simple living.
I’m not going to complain about opulence at the mall today. Instead, I’m sticking to my own opulence in the form of books. What to do? This morning I started sorting in the AR (angel room). Just a beginning and a rather slow one because I had to sit down and peruse each book before deciding what to do with it. Very nuanced choices, I must say.
Pile # 1: Get rid of, “Out, out, out,” as my sister would say. But where to? Give it to my daughter to sell; my minister friends; other friends; the put-and-take; church fair; or god forbid, throw it in the trash because the book has too many personal markings and comments.
Pile # 2: Back on the shelves. But which one? Read right now; read soon; read eventually (only if I live to be 101); use as a possible reference for this blog; keep for sentimental reasons.
Right now I’ve taken a break to sit outside and read. My choice: Marsha Sinetar’s A Way Without Words: A Guide for Spiritually Emerging Adults. Well, that’s me, always emerging.
I ended up at the mall yesterday. My phone needed one of those geniuses at the Apple Store. Mission accomplished. I’ll probably have to return to the Apple store again and again, but I see no good reason to return to the mall every again.
There is certainly no enticement from any store, although, let’s face it, I’m too old for chic styles. I’m into wearing bright colors, but he colors for this fall are no colors at all unless you want to include white, which is the presence of all colors: black as we know is the absence of color. Prices, you ask? No comment. People? Except for the crowds in the Apple Store, the stores and the mall were vacant.
As I sat at the sushi bar ready to grab an eel/avocado and salmon/avocado from the convey belt, images of the thousands of refugees came to mind. I returned home determined to clear out more stuff in our house. I am certain that I don’t want to go back to the mall. I wonder about my life vis-à-vis all the homeless, refugees, and asylum seekers in the world. I’m definitely thinking about simplicity in new, simple ways.
My weaving is coming along slowly, very slowly as I release any yearning to produce a tangible product. Not easy for a doer like me, who wants to sit down and get that shuttle going back and forth immediately. But this isn’t the point, I tell myself.
When I was on Iona in June, my weaver friend Moya introduced me to the craft in her little cottage behind a fairy hill. Weaving as a spiritual practice was all I could see and feel. That still rings true for me, although old habits linger on.
The other day someone wrote, “I am an icon painter and spend many hours in contemplation each day as I paint.” That was the inspiration I needed.
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