My 500 Words: Day 15

Being able to gain the applause of those who may be looking on because of the ‘stuff’ that we are able to surround our self with is in no way an indication that we are being true and honest with who we are.  The virtue of contentment is not found in things, even when other peoples envy has provided a smoke screen for what is happening deep inside our soul.

Even when others can’t see it, an honest look within brings the knowledge that things must change.  The discipline of willpower must be exercised.  Truth be told, most of us are not at the outset do not have the stamina or grace to get from where we are, to where we want to be in one single bound.   In many ways, the journey towards contentment with who we are so that we may live a simple life is treated much like a New Years Resolution… the sentiment is there… but the change usually sputters out in a few short weeks.

We are addicted to the instant gratification that our society provides for us with ability to compulsively purchase trinkets and gadgets… books and clothes… nearly anything to satisfy the craving of an empty life.

We are addicted to the busyness of doing because we find ourselves living in a world that rewards the go getters… and the ladder climbers in the name of progress… net worth… and self-esteem.

And like ants marching in line, we don’t take the time to just stop to consider if whether or not the direction we are heading is exactly what is keeping us bound in the first place.  The excessive doing and going… the daily trips to the department store… each purchase… each accomplishment… a drug to rid us of the pain for the time being.

While and ibuprofen may be good to rid our bodies of physical pain… they serve no purpose for ridding the soul of discontentment.  This can only come by an honest understanding of who you are… no more… no less… with the ability to find yourself an owner of all of the things that money can’t buy.

Take a few moments even now to take a mental inventory of all of the ways in which you have set out to satisfy your souls desire with things that have been manufactured in a factory somewhere.  Take a few moments right now to walk through your basement, or garage to examine the many boxes of things that you haven’t even considered in years.

In reality, you are already living without many of these things because they are sealed and taped in storage containers that you took great pride in neatly organizing, to make things look cleaner and under control.

What is keeping you from simply getting rid of it?

Truth be told, if this is an exercise that you have never considered doing, and you have at least 5 years of storage packed away somewhere… I am guessing that you could get rid of 80% of the stuff that is occupying not only space in your home… but is occupying a place where true contentment in your soul could be found.

My 500 Words: Day 2

I remember one time in particular, while conversing with a group of parents about the types of things that families contend with when it comes  to maintaining intimacy within the home when it comes to the condition of everyone’s heart that words like laziness, appreciation, entitlement were place on the table.  Deep into the conversation, the subject of media in all its forms generated such an emotional response from one mother of four, that her bodily reaction to the subject caught my attention.

She seemed flabbergasted to the point of desperation at the frustration she felt about not being able to make a breakthrough with her family, and what seemed to be an awareness that they all couldn’t seem to break away from the constant flow of information that comes through pixelated in its many forms.  I could tell that this issue was something that perplexed her, and saddened her in many ways.

“What can I do to just get my kids to join the family, and put down their iPods?”

All of this is not to say that technology is only area of our lives that distracts and complicates.  However, in this day and age, it does provide us with something that most of us can related to as a symptom of a bigger issue: there is a hunger in our culture that has made us all vulnerable to complication and distraction.  It is a poverty of the soul.

This poverty does not recognize social or ethnic lines.  It is not concerned with age or sex.  This hunger is common among those with degrees as well as those who are not educated at all.  The size of a person’s bank account is not a conditioning factor in this type of poverty.  It knows no geographical boundaries and is not concerned with what side of the tracks you may live on.  It affects those with an impeccable reputation as well as those who are the outcasts of society.

It is a poverty that strikes us when we are surrounded by all of our stuff… and find ourselves feeling empty inside.

It is a poverty that strikes us when we are surrounded by little… and find ourselves comparing our lives to others.

We ‘plug in’ to whatever we can find to fill a void that is present due to our lack of contentment.  It’d be too simple to say that this is all about Facebook or texting.  It’s much deeper than that.  This is a matter of contentment in who we are… no more… no less.  It is then that we are able to discover that we own things that money can’t by.  It is then that we are able to discover that we know things that can only be felt.  It is then that we are able to discover that we do not need things that we do not have.

Whether its another piece of information about such and such, or who’s doing what… or that third trip to the Walmart to retail therapy the emptiness away for a bit… each of our lives are in need of an overhaul that simplifies in such a way, that we have space to find true happiness and intimacy.