Inching Toward Simplicity: Pragmatics and Prose

Monday, April 09, 2007

Bringing Simplicity Home


  • This week, I found myself stunned to find décor magazines recommending at least 2 sinks per kitchen. Apparently appliance garages are essential (can I get a remote door opener with that?), and one article that implied a “simple” cottage lifestyle gushed, The more “stuff” you have in your cottage style rooms, the more it will feel like you have been collecting for years. Below, some thoughts that buck the madness too much stuff, too much to do, and the exhaustion that can result:

    -Care2’s got it right in this Simplicity Overhaul piece on making time for what really matters. I like the idea of listing priorities (for me, family time, writing time, and nature) and then identifying some of the day-to-day obstacles.
    -I didn’t realize it was all Walt Disney’s fault. If you have 5 minutes read National Geographic’s The Theme-Parking, Megachurching, Franchising, Exurbing, McMansioning of America. This is a reflection on the collective mess that can occur with skewed priorities and poor planning.
    -“Less is more” seems to be making its way even into high-tech machines and systems. But it seems America is conflicted on this point. I love this quote from the Fast Company article The Beauty of Simplicity: The market for simplicity is complex. If I offer you a VCR with only one button, it's not all that exciting, even if when you use it, it's likely to be easier.


I wrote above about the exhaustion that comes with too much. The links I provided are focused mostly on too much stuff, or the pollution of clutter (be it household, community, or even visual aesthetics). But it goes beyond the physical realm, of course.

The clutter for me, of late, has been the clutter of responsibility. When so much is expected of you, how do you clear the decks, how do you make way for a life that feels more livable? This is what I have been struggling with over recent weeks, so much so that I wrote nothing last week.

Maybe the first lesson is to surround yourself with the right kind of support. I wither when I don’t write, so I finally got back to the computer today. But I might have delayed it even further had Linda (my godsend of a sister) not encouraged me to write, if only for 10 minutes.

I took a small step at work and begged off of a business trip so that my workload stays manageable. There’s still a long list of projects waiting for me, but now I’ve gained an extra day to address them. I need to do more of that.

The responsibility of relationships can be a struggle. I have learned to keep an eye on my family role, often self appointed, of helper and coordinator. I am learning, quite painfully sometimes, when to pull back, when to let others make mistakes, how to focus on my own needs.

Lowering unrealistic standards really helps, and I brought that into play this weekend. I tend not to invite people over unless I’ve just cleaned. These days, this habit translates to not much company! I realized that my friend Pam will remain a friend even if I have dirty dishes in the sink and an unvacuumed floor. This letting go meant that Gavin had precious play hours with Sara, the 6-year-old love of his life, and Pam and I got to have a long-postponed, honest-to-goodness conversation.

Here’s to a new week with clear decks and new possibilities.

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At 4/10/2007 6:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out some books on Japanese decor. The simplicity is stunning.


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