Let It Go

It’s not intentional
this accumulation
amounting to clutter

It”s inevitable, given
the emphasis on chasing
material happiness

Its impotency is ironic
all superfluous now
that health teeters

Weighs heavily
on my mental state
craving simplicity

The sentiment
we treasure beats
in heart’s memory

Objects age,
lose relevance

I let go of fear,
the guilt, find
blessed relief

New space inspires
openness, excitement
ensues – freedom.

(Image my own)


Simplicity: A Noble Quest

At thirty-one, I had to learn to change my approach to life, because the old way wasn’t working.

th-2The old way put me at the center of the family (even though I was fifth born), listening to and attempting to resolve every family issue:   Do you think your younger sister is okay living out there in isolation?  Your older sisters are not talking to each other.  I can’t talk to Mom, will you?  Why do men always leave me?  Your brother thinks I abandoned him as a child.  I can’t talk to Dad; he’ll listen to you. Your brother is coming to stay, and well, you know about his wife.   I can’t live with your Father.  And on and on.

The old way was me constantly trying to run from my problems, striving to be better, to do better, and to get ahead.  I was invested in the belief that if I could just do the right thing, my life would be perfect.  I beat myself up trying to reach some magical destination where peace would prevail, and all would be well with the world.

Attachments, chaos, interference, and desires were destroying me.  I lived in a perpetual state of strife and discontentment.

And then the blessing came:  my mind snapped.

As I picked up the pieces of my life, I had to learn to simplify.

th-3I was gifted with new objectivity.  I realized that even though my own life had come to a screaming stop,  everyone else’s went on without me.  The chaos and drama of my family continued, and for the first time in my life, I recognized that I had no ability to control it.  Never had.  My need to feel important and responsible in the midst of that whirlwind was my own sick way of coping.  Nothing I said, did, or sweat over was going to change the outcomes.  I learned to detach and stop interfering.

Mom and Dad are trying to run my life.

“You are strong and have supports.  I trust that you can deal with this.”

Find out what’s wrong with your sister.

“I have my own relationship with my sister, and would prefer that you do the same.  Let’s not get them confused.”

It was the first step to learning to breathe again.

Losing my mind also put a stop to all that rushing around.  I was forced to stand still, which meant everything I had been running from caught up to me.  Egads!  I went into therapy.

th-4My family, I came to understand, dealt with dilemma’s by creating more distractions: new problems.  Our momentum came from the next crisis and there was never any shortage of those.  The problem with this way of living is that the underlying message is that there is something so wrong, so unmentionable, that it is not safe to relax, and so we hang on until the next cliff hanger.  The only control I had in all of this was to no longer choose to be part of it.  Peace, I discovered, was an inner journey and not an outer destination.  Boy, had I been on the wrong track!

“What is it that you really desire?”  the therapist asked me one day.

“I don’t know,” came the response, and it was true.  I had been driving myself so hard, I had forgotten what it was that I was aiming for in the first place.

Life, I concluded, is not a game in which the person with the best ideas, and the most responsibility wins.  It is a journey of moments, and discoveries, and connections, which if we’re not careful, we will miss.  Simplicity, my heart’s actual desire, is being able to minimize the attachments, resist the need to interfere, and be the calm at the center of the storm.

I’m still working on it, but at least now, I am more aware.

Day 177 “Trimming Excess”

Want to meet for a drink after work on Friday?  The text was the third invitation I had received this week.

Sorry, was my response, too swamped with work.

Like my dismissal of the other two invites, I didn’t give it another thought.

That is until I read today’s reflection.  “The principle of simplicity,” Derek Lin writes, “…can be extended to cover excess in general.”  Apart from my weight issue, I thought, where might I trim excess?

It hit me like a bolt of lightning – How about the excess that stands between me and my values?

I profess to value relationship, and long for deeper friendships, yet I find saying no so easy.  Work above all else is my creed.  I learned it from my father, who learned it from his father, and have even passed it down to my children.  Everyone understands the importance of work, so it is a forgivable excuse – but is it an honest one?

If I put the amount of effort into my relationships as I do my career, I would surely have the bonds I long for.  Is work an excuse?  Could it be that I really am just afraid of intimacy? I certainly have experienced more than my share of rejection and abandonment, so maybe this is something I need to consider.

Teaching, with all the prep work involved, is time consuming.  Coaching, while expected, just adds more hours onto the day, yet, I wonder if there isn’t another approach to the way I deal with the pressure?  Is there any excess to be trimmed to make room for other aspects of my life?

I worry about something as soon as it is assigned.  Once I know my classroom assignments, for example, I immediately go into overdrive trying to plot out the semester and thinking of ideas to engage my students.  I push myself to be organized weeks in advance, and fret about the weeks beyond.  The resulting emotion is one of being always behind, frantic.

What if I could change my approach –  break tasks down into more manageable chunks – and leave myself time each day for something other than work?  Is it possible to create balance, and with it calm?

“Trimming Excess”, with its simplicity of message, has caused me to reflect on the way I complicate things.




“Take the train into the city, Mom.  It would be so much easier.”

“No,” I insisted.  “I like the independence of having my car.”

So, I arrived at my daughter’s Monday morning to find there were no parking spaces on her street.  I texted her to meet me outside.  It was close to lunch time, so I suggested we go for some lunch and then, hopefully, find a place for my car afterwards.  I parked near the restaurant, which was just blocks away from her home.

“I can leave my car here.”

“No, parking here is only one hour.  We’ll have to move it after lunch.”

We lingered on the patio, enjoying the day and catching up on each other’s lives.

After lunch, we drove around again, searching in vain.  I parked in the one hour zone again, hoping something would come up later.

We rested for a while, then drove the car to get some groceries from the store that was, also, just around the corner.  On our return, I found a spot across from their townhouse.

“I won’t want to move my car any time soon,”  I joked.

And, in fact, I didn’t.  My daughter’s home is situated in a trendy neighbourhood close to shops and restaurants – really anything you need is in walking distance.  My car, it turned out was just a burden.

My need for “independence”, on my terms, really only complicated things for me.

I wonder how many other routines or habits complicate my life.

Simplifying my life means being willing to let go of some of the beliefs that I cling to, and being open to another way of doing things.