‘Tis a gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be free
tis a gift to come down where we ought to be
and when we find ourselves in the place just right,
’twill be in the valley of love and delight
To be simple. To be free. To be where we ought to be … in the place just right. This old Shaker song, its words and its melody, captured my attention many years ago. I wish I could tell you that I easily adopted this, and adapted my life accordingly.
Umm, no. I’m not that quick.
What I can tell you is I’m working on it. And I’ve had glimpses of that place just right. Here are some things I’m learning about simplicity. Notice I said “learning”, not “learned.”
1. The more “stuff” I have, the harder it is. The bigger the house, the more it can hold – and the more demands on me and my resources – financial, physical, mental and emotional. Stuff takes my time, and my energy. (My family will kindly keep quiet about my books!)
2. Knowing my life purpose, my values, my beliefs – and being SURE of them, settles some things for me, and makes many decisions simple. Not always easy, but simple. The sooner you can decide your values and beliefs and discover your purpose, the closer you will be to the gift of simplicity. These are things that will determine your goals and set your direction. You will still have decisions to make along the way, but these serve as boundaries for your navigation, the larger path for your next steps.
3. The busier I am, the less simplicity and freedom I experience. If I am rushed and every moment is packed, and this pace continues for too long, it’s not pretty! In my late twenties I wanted to pack my life, and my schedule, with as much as possible. OK, admittedly I was younger and had more energy! But this attitude led to years of over-commitment in volunteer work and always feeling stretched to take care of my family and home, maintain meaningful friendships and just keeping all the plates spinning. ‘Twas not simple. I’m not advocating a perpetual vacation. I am advocating a reasonable pace and time to breathe.
4. I need daily time just to listen. To listen to God, to listen to my heart. Just time to be still. From this calm and His peace, grows simplicity.
5. And the flip side to that manner of listening? Listening less to all of the other voices that clamor for my attention. Fewer news shows on TV, fewer magazine subscriptions, less time on Facebook. I have not eliminated all activities; just scaled back because I realized they can easily consume more and more of my time. I also have turned off all of the alerts on my phone, except for actual phone calls (imagine!) and texts. I had email, and ads, and games and all sorts of alerts going off, and was constantly checking my phone. Now, I check those when I want to, not when it beeps. Being a little less plugged in is a good thing.
And so, I keep on ..
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right
May you come ’round right, friends.