Friday, June 14, 2013

learning about simplicity

I've always been a fan of orderly and simple environments.  I feel at peace when dishes are washed, clothes are folded, bills are paid, and the table top is clear.  

I'm discovering another type of simplicity.  If, in an effort to arrive at an orderly environment, my actions are hurried and unhappy, there is a lack of simplicity within me as I attempt to gain simplicity around me.  

Reading Thich Nhat Hanh recently has helped me to understand what slowing down means.  The book has been returned to the library, and I don't remember the title, just that the cover is battered and worn.   There is a chapter in the book where he suggests assigning a day every week to not speaking, and to doing things very slowly.  He describes what this day might be like:  bathing with care, boiling water, brewing tea, then drinking it slowly.

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.” 

Rushing toward the future--that describes me in a nutshell!  In a way, I often live about 3 steps ahead of my body, which can't walk fast enough to keep up with where I wish I was.  

Finding simplicity in my life might mean inhabiting the present moment as fully as possible.  "Slow down" and "Live in the present" sound like cliches--I've heard them so often and thought they'd be something I'd have time for at some point, preferably once I achieve my ideal life.

In the moment when my mind is four steps ahead of my hands, I tremblingly inhale, exhale, and look down at the still life (still, very still) before me.  It is beautiful, in this moment, and I have permission to enjoy this moment, to see its beauty.  

Making supper tonight--I want to wash some greens.  I take down the big bowl to put in the sink, but a dirty dish is sitting there.  This is the moment where I choose.

I set the big bowl aside.   I'm eager to wash the greens, but I can take this moment to wash the dirty dish carefully, and enjoy seeing it become clean, and setting it to dry.  I'm not rushing to end this moment--I'm inhabiting it.

The moment before the one I am striving toward is a moment also.  I can miss it, or resent it for getting in the way.  Or I can experience it as fully as possible.  And the only way to do that is to not wish I was some place else.  

To actually enjoy this moment?  I feel a burden lifting, as if I was being granted permission to be here now, instead of rushing to somewhere up ahead.  A great gift--it feels like a vacation, because the present moment is so much simpler than racing through the obstacles toward the goal up ahead.  Maybe the only true beauty I can find, the only true simplicity, is simplicity of the present moment.

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