You don’t have to be Albert Einstein to say that. Actually, you do, because it was Albert Einstein who said it. And He’s right. His Jewish heritage taught him it, and the Christian scriptures affirm it. Tis a gift to be simple. Simplicity is simply the best.
As you know, Gelind and I moved homes last year. As I sifted through what to take with us and what to dump, I found myself drowning in books and paper. I had thought the pandemic was going to relieve us of this. We’d be free to focus on the important things in life. We’d see clearly what matters and what doesn’t. The pandemic was our friend in exposing the clutter and the trivia and showing us where we needed liberation. Put simply: Life would be simpler. How’s that working for you? (In the end I discarded over 600 books and so many pieces of paper that I could not lift them.)
I used to subscribe to a daily briefing from the outlet ‘Medium’ – a kind of digital free-for-all where anyone who thinks they have something serious to say about current affairs, lifestyle, entertainment, philosophy, spirituality, etc. can say it in a magazine article. Medium picked the articles each day they thought I’d be interested in and sent me an email listing them. I decided to drop this subscription on the day they sent me articles entitled: ‘The way to buy happiness’, ‘The real solution to Imposter Syndrome’, ‘To become who you want to be, you have to face the Gap’, ‘One thing all great learners know’. ‘Read these books for an instant dose of perspective’, ‘A rule for solving unsolvable problems’, ‘How to trick yourself into felling more motivated’, ‘To get unstuck, think with your hands’, and ‘8 ways to get fresh starts on your calendar’. Seriously. What I really needed was an article on how to cut down on the suggestions for articles to read.
I needed to de-clutter my life, re-focus on what’s important, choose carefully only what will enrich my life in some way. Or, as Jesus put it, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust can destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasure in heaven.” (Mt 6:18)
Richard Foster gives a recipe for simplicity: 10 Commandments of Simple Living. Here goes.
- Buy things for their usefulness, not status.
- Reject anything that is forming an addiction in you.
- Develop a habit of giving things away.
- Resist the propaganda of those who are out to get your money.
- Learn to enjoy things without owning or renting them.
- Develop a deeper appreciation for creation.
- Avoid debt.
- Reject anything that oppresses others, or harms creation.
- Talk plainly and honestly.
- Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the Kingdom of God.
It all sounds very reasonable and worthy. I feel inspired. I need to write this down. Now where did I put my pencil?