Simplify

Who is rich? He who rejoices in his portion.   The Talmud

image by sharon pruitt

Living more simply is about creating both inner and outer simplicity, leaving space for true richness and joy. It affects every part of our lives: what we own, who we know, how we spend our time.

Why does it matter? As we grow older, our time becomes more precious. Let’s face it: each hour, each week, each month represents a greater percentage of the time we have left than they did when we were young.

So it becomes more important to spend that time joyfully. We need to dream and to do ‘nothing’. We need to work hard at what we love, whether or not it’s paid work. We need to spend time with people and in places we love.

Paradoxically, by the time we reach middle-life, most of us have built up around us a hard shell of possessions and activities, ideas and convictions and duties. We drag it around, so accustomed that we no longer notice the weight. One of the skills of growing older is discerning which of those activities and possessions are unnecessary.

The kings and queens of old were buried with all their possessions (and sometimes a slave or six). But what was the point?

It’s not deprivation

Now please don’t confuse what I’m talking about with deprivation. There are far too many people in this world living in abject poverty. And I’m not talking about a deathly serious life, either.

Think about the word vital, one of the meanings of which is essential to organic life. And from vital comes vitality: vital power, ability to sustain life. Can we have the energy of true vitality if we have too much around us that is not vital?

Perhaps we might think of ourselves as snakes, shedding our skins. As we grow and move through our lives, we leave behind layer after layer of dead cells, and with each shedding, we shimmer more brightly. After all, long before reinvented by the Christian Bible, the snake was an ancient symbol of wisdom and still is today in the East.

Choosing the space of simplicity allows the richness of the sacred into our lives. Which all sounds very grand, doesn’t it, when perhaps what we’re talking about is clearing out the cupboard under the stairs?

So one of the things we’ll be talking about a lot at Pilgrim’s Moon is how to achieve just the right level of joyful simplicity in our lives.

Tess Giles Marshall

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