Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple. – Pete Seeger
I’ve been thinking about simplification a lot these days. Perhaps it is a sign of age, or dare I say maturity, but I’ve been reducing my needs to as few as possible. By cleaning off various wants, and things that can truly be lived without, the truly necessary begins to shine through. After the psychological needs of sustenance and needs of safety are met most everything else is intangible. Now while the world is on pause these ethereal avatars, mental and physical, are a galaxy of shimmering lights.
As I drink my morning coffee, I cast my mind across the nebulous ocean of memories. Patiently drifting with the luxury of time the essence of loved ones present and passed envelopes me in uncomplicated joy: my grandmother’s simple house dress and straw hat; my mother’s African violets on the windowsill in spring; my beloved grandpa’s wintergreen Skoal; and my children’s laughter and smiles – join together in a comforting cloak of purity. As Guy de Maupassant once said: “Our memory is a more perfect world than the universe: it gives back life to those who no longer exist.”
Looking around at our minimalist home, I know there is nothing “worth stealing” but there is a treasure house of memories: photographs, kids drawings, mom’s PTA pins…, sitting in the corner. But most of all, I am here, my wife is over there preparing lessons for students online, and out there over the horizon in three directions are my kids. Life can be reduced to its minimal requirements if we have that inner world to sustain us in these uncertain times. Fear can be brought to heel through the power of love and esteem.
The unknown can burrow in and hollow out your spirit, or it can be used as a catalyst for change. Changes in priorities, changes in wants, changes in habits, all are pliable and can be transformed during the unknown length of time ahead when so much of yesterday’s life is on pause. Re-order your priorities. Stay informed and safe while you allow these days to energize your soul. Simplify all that you can. Direct your future towards what is essential to you and those you love. Peace.