By Lisa Chorny
(Editor’s Note: Lisa Chorny is an SBNR musician and member of our local community. She regularly leads our Sunday Awakenings meditation sessions and participates in our Community Gatherings. This is her first post on SBNR.org.)
Yesterday I was going through all the boxes of stuff that I’ve accumulated over the years. I will be moving soon and wanted to simplify. Being confined to, pretty much, one room, the accumulation was starting to affect my mood. Since a continual motto for me is “out with the old, in with the new”, I decided to get on with the purging process. I started pulling things from boxes and making piles; recycle, garbage, garage sale, e-bay, keep, give away, etc.
I soon found myself so lost amidst my mountain range of life-time possessions that I had to triangulate my location (luckily my GPS was amidst the piles ;-). I located myself somewhere between Mount Kilimanjunko, Mount Never-rest and K2muchstuff.
This is where I ran across a book that was given to me by a friend many months ago. The title is Simple Abundance; A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach. This book has a short entry for every day of the year meant to be read to help your “daily life” be “an expression of your authentic self.” I figured that since I wasn’t moving anywhere soon, and since my brain could really use a simply abundant break from the chaotic mess, I decided to open the page to the May 18th entry and see what wisdom Ms. Breathnach had to impart on me. Mind you, I had never even opened the book until that moment, so imagine my surprise and delight to not only find the attached satin ribbon book mark was already marking the May 18th page (weird) but also in reading the following entry:
Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
Out of clutter, find simplicity. –Albert Einstein
After a morning spent sifting and sorting through the beautiful, the useful, and the useless, I glanced around our living room floor. It resembled and archaeological dig with small stacks of artifacts all separated according to their domestic categories. I wondered what a late-twentieth-century anthropologist considering the juxtaposition of junk and precious mementos (such as my daughter’s last pacifier) would tell the world about the woman whose life was now reduced to a series of neat and pleasing bundles.
Soon it became time to return everything to where it belonged. This, believe it or not, was a source of great contentment. As I wandered through the rooms of the house I began to search for the common thread in the lives of the world’s great spiritual teachers and traditions: Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Buddha, Lao-Tzu, The Hebrew prophets, The Moslem Sufis, The Catholic saints, The Hindu rishis, The Shakers, The Quakers, The Amish. None of them had junk drawers. That’s because all embraced simplicity. Spirituality, simplicity, and serenity seem to be a sacred trinity; three divine qualities of the orderly soul. Henry David Thoreau believed “our life is frittered away by detail.” I disagree. I think our lives are frittered away by lack of focus. But how can we focus our attention on what’s truly important when we’re half-crazed because we can never find anything? However, Thoreau’s remedy for the frittering frets still works today: “Simplify, simplify, simplify.”
This week, consider that with a little bit of courage and creativity you can find the breathing space you crave. You may think you’re only clearing clutter from a junk drawer or juggling commitments to find a few hours to get your house in order. But your soul knows better.
Thank you for the synchronistic reminder, Sarah. I’m glad I ran across your book. I can’t wait to bump into it again. This time it won’t be buried under a mountain of stuff.