My 500 Words: Day 16

As you take steps to minimalize the things around you, and endure the ‘shopping mall’ mentality of self-worth, meaning, nature and purpose, you will discover a mind-set of idolatry.  The human soul is always in pursuit something that will please us…  there is an appetite longing to be satisfied in some way… a need to be met.  We have hunger.

Often times, after I have entered into a fast of some sort, I am taken aback that much of whatever I am giving up for a time is so readily accessible.

Knock food out of your life for a couple days, and all of the sudden the fast food restaurant commercials on the television begin to stick out with a vengeance.  The plethora of cookies and snacks that line the counters and cupboards of your home begin to make you realize that food is usually just within arm’s reach.

Knock unnecessary technology and noise out of your life by dropping the iPod or television out of your life, and you begin to consider how much of an assault your eyes, ears, and mind are under at so many moments of the day.

It doesn’t take long until these small moments of realization cause you to begin asking questions like, ‘Is all of this really necessary?’…  ‘Could I live with less?’

When you begin to intentionally examine your surroundings in such a way that you are looking for ways in which to condense all of the ‘stuff’ that you believe added meaning and purpose to your nature as a human being… and then take the necessary steps to begin eliminating the clutter, what you find is that you have more space to become more… you.

I prided myself for a long time in the extensive library of books that I was able to acquire.  Many of these books were purchased with a specific intention in mind.  I love to be mentally stimulated and have always lived with a sense of wonder of all of the magnificent stories there were out there to discover… all of the mysteries to uncover.  And so, I would gather books to surround myself with as a way to be immersed in other worlds and other lives.  So often, I would begin reading them, and never finish.  But they got put on the shelf, and over time quite a diverse collection.

What I found… was that over the years, I would actually only make my way back to about a dozen of them on a regular basis.  I was then faced with the challenge to allow myself to let a smaller shelf of books not only be a sense of pride… but also box hundreds of others up for donation or sale.

It sounds simple to some I am sure… but if you consider the things in your life that you take pride in… and have collected through the years, you can understand that this was not an easy task.

What I discovered in the process is that as I grew into more of who I was, not having the distraction of so many peripheral books to explore created a space for me to dive deeper and deeper into the real places of the soul that I wanted to explore.  The landscape of who I was became clearer and clearer as I learned to live with less and less… of a seemingly good thing.

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.