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?


Jenny R said...

Simplifying is a great idea. I actually have been slowly working toward that. My problem: convenience and time. Doing something the simple way is not always simple. Still - I do have too much stuff that i have been trying to whittle down and have been finding many ways to cut back on the spending. Still much more work to do!!!!

Anonymous said...

I love that song and sang it for choir my sophmore year (I think). It's true though, the simpler you make life, the happier you become.

Joanne said...

A neighbor down the street left a note on my door this morning to see if she could have any of our boxes that were sitting out on the front side yard. She said she was decluttering after living in the same house for 30 years. Her friend told her to just get a box and start in one room, maybe just one area, and put things in the box that you don't use or want. When you have that area cleaned up you will feel so much better that you won't want to ever clutter it up again! Decluttering is my idea to making life simple again for me! I'm working on it!

Anonymous said...

i read your post back in october, but it is different now, I'm getting ready for college and I have to simplify, I never realized how much I could simplify from how I am now living my life.

Jocelyn said...

That's the beauty of the song. I feel like as I enter different stages in life, the lyrics take on different meanings. Same thing happens with symbolism in the gospel. Love it!