Thursday, December 20, 2007

DO WE ALL CRAVE SIMPLICITY?A friend emailed me, in response to my Wide Margins post. She wondered why she has such a hard time slowing down and enjoying the simpler things. This is what she said:

"If you ever have any thoughts on it, would you consider writing what you think about people like me who really don't know how to enjoy things like hanging laundry outside, having container gardens, etc.? I think there's probably more people that are like me, but considering I seem to be surrounded by people who do enjoy those things, it makes me want to be able to enjoy them b/c I see how much you do. I don't think I take the time to enjoy things in general. I'm too fast paced. Like if I take a bath, I have to have something to read or else I feel like I'm wasting time."

I think many, many people feel this way, at least sometimes. But WHY? Why do we struggle with the balance of having a full life, but one that isn't too full of things that make life stressful? What is a simple life, anyway? That could look very different to different people...or might look different to the same person, at different stages of life. I don't know the answer to those questions, but I do know this. Living a simple, pared down life is better for you...less chaos and stress and pressures tugging at a person must be good for the health...lower blood pressure, better sleep, etc. Also, it is a biblical concept "Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10" It is very hard (If not impossible!) to commune with Christ if we are too busy rushing around to hear Him.

I also don't think that being still, choosing peace over chaos, is something that comes naturally. It is like anything else worth must be practiced intentionally. It is learned, over and over again. Our culture is not one that thinks much of simplicity or stillness. We want to be productive, efficient, organized. How much can we possibly cram into one day? How much multi-tasking can we do? It is all about the bottom line. I fight that mind set all the time. When my hubby comes home and asks me what I did that day, I want to give him a big, long, dramatic list of ALL the things I have accomplished. In my weak mind, sharing a long, impressive "ta-da" list with him says "See, aren't I important?"

There are several books that I think speak beautifully on the subject. Maybe you know of more (if so, please do tell!).
-The Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris
-The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
-Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
-Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for mothers in a hurry by Katrina Kennison*

So, my friend and I are wondering: what is your take on leading and living a simple life? Do you see the importance of it? Do you enjoy being "busy" or do you long for margins in your day? What aspect of this to you struggle w/ most?

*This book is excellent for mothers with small children


  1. I am beginning to see that living my life for myself and my family and not others automatically takes care of the stuff that's not important. I think it is too easy for us to get caught up in what others are doing and seem to be achieving. We need to take time to acknowledge how important it is to be still once in awhile. I think if we all slowed down a bit and sifted through the things that clutter us up, we would realize everyone is aching and searching for the same peace.

  2. I don't ENJOY being busy. I crave just "being", but I don't feel complete if I'm not being productive. I love your description of ta-da list, because that is exactly what it is for me. I want to be able to say, "see how much I did?!"

    I have recently picked up Mitten Strings again. It is a great read. A WONDERFUL friend gave me a copy (Thanks, Laurel!) In fact, I'm giving away a copy on my blog right now!

    I'm really giving thought to a New Year's resolution, which I've never done before. I want to slow down. I want to enjoy my kids before they are grown and gone. Even though I feel like I'm accomplishing things throughout the day, I feel like I'm missing out on something. I think that something is the wide margin you speak of.

    Anyway, didn't mean to write a post. This is really heavily in my thoughts these days. I am really enjoying reading your blog as it helps me center my thoughts even more.


  3. I like both. Yet, I must admit that I have become "more still" since the birth of my first child. I used to be wired-to-the-max, type A, business minded, busy/crazy lady. Now, I look inward to my family and I spend time here. My husband and my child have become my focus. It has taken some adjusting -- and I am still adjusting every day -- but I am happy here - here in the inky stillness of my simple days.

  4. I love the book "The Contented Soul: the Art of Savoring Life" by Lisa Graham McMinn a lot and of course "Crunchy Cons" :) I also really like the book "Where God Begins to be" by a nun-turned-hermit about her lessons along the way in a life of solitude (Karen Karper).
    Simplicity for me is paring down my priorities and living by them. Sometimes my priorities shift around according to my season of life and circumstances. At times I sacrifice some of my eco-friendly living if it is keeping me from say entertaining a large group of people in which I need to use paper products for sanity sake. My purpose for simplifying is to make plenty of space in my daily schedule for the Lord and live a relational life. And what is simple to one person just isn't simple to another (like your friend on hanging laundry and container gardening :) I laughed that she said she is surrounded by people who love doing things like!! Can I have some of those friends :) )????