Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Irony of Simplicity

The practice of simplicity should be, well, simple. And I guess in actuality it is. It's us, the people attempting the practice, who are complicated and inconsistent. I have been interested in simplicity as a personal and spiritual discipline for some time. I first considered it because it is a cornerstone of my primary belief system, Quakerism. As I investigated it and attempted application in my life I found other disciplines related to and reliant on simplicity, primarily Buddhism and political anarchism/individualism--in the vein of Thoreau. Understanding and living the tenets of Quakerism are challenge enough for anyone, especially a borderline ADD, pseudo-packrat, ex-soldier, ex-honky tonk hero. So I naturally had to expand my horizons and explore other related disciplines to fully understand and apply simplicity. Discipline somehow got lost in the process.

Actually, while I have my challenges with trying to fill my life with as many interests as there are hours in the day (thus complicating things), I have applied many of the tenets of simplicity as I understand them. From my studies of Taoism and Taijiquan I have applied the idea of yielding, going with the flow, to many areas of life. Instead of trying to lay out and follow ridiculous plans, I now rely more on faith and right-mindedness. And while I'm sure I need to work at it, I do try to make time for my family, and for adequate down time.

Researching simplicity has given me reason to remember that we work to live, and shouldn't live to work, and that life is short and should be savored. That has inspired me to do things that I have wanted to do but have resisted for all kind of ridiculous reasons, such as take a class every now and then--just for the sake of doing it, get in a band--or two, take up martial arts, ride my motorcycle more, start a blog--or two. And before I know it my practice of simplicity is not so simple any more.

I think the key is in being mindful and cautious with desire. In the meantime I need to clear some of the clutter off my desk and coffee table and reading table and dining room table and dresser and workshop..... Perhaps I don't get it at all.

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