Simplicity

Much has changed in my life since last I posted to this blog, and today I find myself in the midst of yet another crossing.  Some of the shipmates are the same, but the vessel is different and this time the ocean is less clearly defined, the shores we head to as well, unknown.  Yet onwards we sail!   Finding my bearings without a compass is hard. Following the wind is easy, if you trust it.  Why do sometimes we stop trusting ? 

I’ve met new people and rediscovered some books from my childhood which have provided some clues. I have also discovered new ones thanks to the additions to the crew we sail with today.  Their guidance – simplicity, beauty, magic, trust, focusing on that which matters and accepting that which you cannot see, yet know; the magic of life and it’s process regardless of the circumstances…

George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin and the The Princess and Curdie were read to me by my mother when I was a child. I’ve reread them both with the hunger of that child which was and its remnants still deep inside me. These words jumped out at me from the beginning of the 2nd book:

“…as Curdie grew, he grew at this time faster in body than in mind – with the usual consequences, that he was getting rather stupid – one of the chief signs of which was that he believed less and less in things he had never seen.  At the same time I do not think he was ever so stupid as to imagine that this was a sign of superior faculty and strength of mind.  Still he was becoming more and more a miner, and less and less a man of the upper world where the wind blew.  On his way to and from the mine he took less and less notice of the bees and butterflies, moths and dragonflies, the flowers and the brooks and the clouds.  He was gradually changing into a commonplace man.

There is a difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection.  One of the latter sort comes at length to know at once whether a thing is true the moment it comes before him; one the former class grows more and more afraid of being taken in, so afraid of it that he takes himself in altogether, and comes at length to believe in nothing but his dinner: to be sure of a thing with him is to have it between his teeth.

Curdie was not in a very good way, then, at that time…” (The Princess and Curdie, George MacDonald, pgs. 11-12, Puffin Classics)

We often burry our heads in the mines, our smartphones and that which is practical or between our teeth  and may often miss the beauty which is all around us. A storm itself is a thing; something of awe: one’s shipmates too – how can we live so close and so intimately with each yet cease to notice?  I ask myself often this question even about myself, seeing how little I seem to understand myself, going from reaction to reaction, day after day.  We must seriously contemplate ways to keep running a parallel existences and as Gene O’Kelly suggests focus on more than just one “bank account”?

“Simplicity is in such scare supply, I thought, yet so many people would benefit by it, be transformed by it.  Looking at how some of the people around me had managed their lives, I lamented that they had not been blessed as I had, with this jolt to life.  They had no real motivation or clear timeline to stop what they were so busy at, to step back, to ask what exactly they were doing with their life.  Many of them had money; many of them had more money than they needed.  Why was it so scary to ask themselves one simple question:  Why am I doing what I’m doing?  Part of me understood the vortex, of course.  Part of me understood that they couldn’t stop, particularly if they’d enjoyed success, because if they did stop, they would stop being relevant.  I understood. Completely.

But being relevant was not relevant.

At some point – a point it’s preferable that you chose – it’s time to transition.  To prepare for the final stage.  I had many friend that I worried would ignore that moment for too long, try to stay relevant for too long, and then forever lose the opportunity to control the choice.  ‘Growing old is a helpless hurt,"’  Willie Mays said at the end of his career, after a bitter final year in which he played like a shadow of a shadow of himself.

It’s coming, for sure.  It’s going to be hard, for sure.  Some people out there – not enough, but some – understand that you start putting money away now, so that it can grow to be sufficient for later in life, when you need it.

why wouldn’t you start doing that now with something at least as important as your money – your soul?” (Chasing Daylight, Eugene O’Kelly, pgs. 132-133, McGraw Hill, 2008)

Photo: © MThatcher “Reflection” Inya Lake, Yangon, Myanmar 

This too falls squarely into the notion of having one’s cake and eating it too.  Nurturing the soul and nurturing one’s practical requirements, need not be mutually exclusive.  Do not allow your mining (whatever that means for you) to distract you or engulf you to the extent that you neglect your soul (whatever that means for you too).  

Simplicity requires eliminating that which is unimportant while maintaining focus on that which is most important, or that which matters.  That said, we are complex beings able to exist in multiple spheres – never forget this – yet keep it simple in how you approach it.  There may not be a resolution between these worlds, rather mutual growth and endless potential…

Happy Solstice!