Sunday, September 28, 2008

Simple gifts

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.

Joseph Brackett’s Shaker hymn has been a recurring track in the score of my life. Discovering it as a high school student, the melody touched my heart as I repeatedly listened, longing to come round right. Through the years I’ve turned and turned as I’ve learned to bow and bend. Not till recently have I grasped the importance of simplicity in this process. The past few years I have lived decadently, enjoying the pleasures of life, but still feeling a hollowness as I longed for the valley of love and delight. I hoped that the next piece of furniture or throw pillow would transform my home into the place just right but in fact each acquisition just added to the complication of life.

Now that I’m autonomous and am responsible only to myself for my spending habits, I’ve considered the vast difference between my college days when I was quite happy living on $30 a week for groceries and entertainment, sharing a room in a three bedroom apartment, riding my bike to the grocery store, buying second hand clothes and my present situation where I spend $30 on a bottle of conditioner….

I walked away from my furniture. I walked away from my apartment. I walked away from my television. Now I have the choice to rebuild, as Trent Reznor described, my empire of dirt or continue to simplify. I am finding comfort as I “use it up; wear it out; make it do or do without!” I don’t need a television. I enjoy checking out books from the library. I don’t need 10 pairs of shoes. I enjoy having my shoes fit neatly in my closet. I don’t need to drive everywhere. I enjoy walking to the coffee shop or riding my bike to work. There’s a quiet satisfaction that comes from finding joy in the simple gifts.

What are some ways you’ve simplified? How has simplifying increased your freedom?
Post a Comment