Friday, October 16, 2009

Being True

This isn’t about being selfish it’s about being true.

One of my favorite bloggers and twitterers is Leo Babauta. I discovered that he writes about life right where I am at this stage of my life. Three blogs I read are Zen Habits, Zen Family Habits and Mnmlist . If you are curious about living a simplified lifestyle spend a little time looking through these.

In stereotypical terms and clumping all Americans into one statement, ‘Americans have an insatiable need for things and for more and more (and more)’. So what happens when the economy and the world as we have known it does a flip flop like a fish out of water?

Could it be true…less is more.

Robert Browning certainly felt it was worthy of inclusion in his 1855 poem entitled Andrea del Sarto:

     Who strive - you don't know how the others strive
     To paint a little thing like that you smeared
     Carelessly passing with your robes afloat,-
     Yet do much less, so much less, Someone says,
     (I know his name, no matter) - so much less!
     Well, less is more, Lucrezia.

I have come up with my own manifesto for my family for as long as I have influence on them.

1. Buy what you want, but buy less. Since I have lost a sizable amount of weight, I decided to clean out my closet and disperse all the items that don’t fit to someone else to use which left quite a void. Not having a lot of discretionary money has brought me to shopping resale, discount sales and other cheap places. When I see something and consider buying it I ask myself “do I love it?” and if the answer is no it stays. I am not going to buy something just because it was a great deal if I am not extremely fond of it. If I were to go ahead and get it, even if it is free, it isn’t worth the cost because soon it will be clutter.

2. Eat what you want, but eat less. How often do we really know what we want to eat but don’t because it has too many calories or too much fat or not enough vitamins or minerals in it? Often what happens is we eat the “good for you” item but still want the other item. Then we often end up eating the item we wanted in the first place, resulting in extra and wasted calories. I think it is better to eat exactly what you want but just don’t eat as much as you may want. Let a little do the trick.

3. Say what you mean, but say less. I have become aware that too many people talk way too much. We think we have to explain our explanations, justify our justifications and apologize through our apologies. I think at one time or another most people have said “do you know what I mean?” or “do you get what I am saying?” Sometimes when people say that to me I want to scream “granted I was educated in the public school systems and I went to college at a small Christian college, I think I am bright enough to understand what you are saying and if I don’t, shut up so I can ask you to clarify for me”.

I meant what I said

And I said what I meant . . . .

An elephant's faithful

One hundred per cent!

- Horton Hatches the Egg

4. Do what you want, but do less. Do you ever feel like you are in the spin cycle of the washing machine and wish someone would push the stop button? Sometimes the spin cycle stops at the insistence of something quite clamorous, other times it is a drastic consequence. Life is all about balance. I know that the less I do the happier I am. When I stopped being obligated to causes and organizations which I was in allegiance to, not because I didn’t feel akin to their purpose, but because it was habit or I thought it made me worthwhile or my favorite, because no one else would do what needed to be done. I finally shook myself and realized that if no one else will do it maybe it doesn’t need to be done. I like having a 5 minute breather before an appointment. I enjoy being the first one when meeting friends for lunch. I like having a minute to listen to the birds. I want to spend time doing what is meaningful to me which includes caring for other people. I don’t want to have regrets or say I ought to or I should have. I want to do what I want.

5. Keep the best, but keep less. The best means something different to different people. For me I would rather have the antique furniture that has been passed to me from my family other people would look at these prized possessions and call them junk. This is a tough one though. Drew and I have tried and tried to go through his things and pare his treasures down. He finds sentimental reasons to keep just about anything. But what I try to help him see is that we have to make room for the new experiences, treasures and hobbies he is developing every day. There are some things that were a part of my past that I can’t get rid of yet. That is okay for now, but I know at some point if I want new and fresh I need to make some room. Sometimes this happens with relationships too. We want to have room to keep those vital relationships in our lives. But sometimes we find out that as the affiliation wavers it is because something has changed.

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