We live in a fast-paced complex world that would, and often does, tie you up in knots. Our fast ‘Google culture’ makes everything instant. I love the practicality of my smartphone, but it means that I’m ‘on’ a significant amount of the time.
And then there’s the ‘stuff’ and the money that the ‘stuff’ costs. And then there’s all the stuff that we already have, and have had for years because there’s some sort of weird reason why we can’t get rid of it. Some attachement of some sort, or that it was Aunty Mary that sent it, or …. you know the story.
And then there is communication, and the way commucation does or doesn’t work in communities. We end up creating some complicated webs of knowledge, and then that knowledge becomes power because of who does or doesn’t have that knowledge. Or, there are things that I should know about someone just in case I haven’t got good judgement of my own to work people out. You know the story.
The second monastic value that is close to me, after silence, is simplicity. Simplicity because life is complicated enough. Simplicity because it is very close to transparency and openness. Simplicity because misunderstandings are avoided. Simplicity because we’re not geared up to be dealing with millions of data firing at us all the time.
There’s an interenet meme going around that says ‘My head is like an internet browser: there are 30 windows open and I have no idea where the music is coming from.’
Enough. When will we all learn to say ‘enough’? When will we stop stuffing our diaries (and our children’s diaries) with constant activity and busyness like that is the proof of a fulfilled and productive life?
And when will we stop over-consuming everything? Need I say more?
They say we live in a fast-paced society. That may well be true. But we can resist. If our ‘busyness’ becomes more important than the quality of our lives and relationships, then its value is lost. If all our working hours are to maintain a standard of living that, if we thought about it, we’d be much happier without, then stop. Take the pay cut, lose the hours and gain your soul!
Thing is, the pressures of society are unlikely to become fewer.
I recently was on an online forum where someone was asking how to deal with pages and pages of ‘to-do’ lists. Many people had some interesting ideas to organise her busyness better. My response was ‘perhaps its time to evaluate some lifestyle choices?’
I direct the same challenge to myself. There’s loads of things that I could throw overboard that would lead to a greater sense of sanity and peace, that would lead to more effective productivity where it mattered….and that might just mean I didn’t have to tidy up quite so often…!
Simplicity. It’s simply underrated.