To be a simplicity parent, I have to simplify my life and as I do, I learn what this truly means. It isn’t just about getting rid of stuff, even though that’s a good place to start. As I simplify our home, reducing the distractions we take for granted to give my children more time and space to just be, I also begin to see myself more deeply.
When getting rid of stuff, I pause to question more deeply why I have kept something. Why is this in my life? What is my real relationship to it? It represents another time. Perhaps a hope that I will do something again, or maybe someday for the first time. Too often that time never seems to come, so I am failing again and again before I even begin.
Yet these things take up space, annoy me with their beckoning, and slow me down when it’s time to move. I have to ask if each of these things really belongs in my life, without assuming that it does simply because it once seemed to. Why have I been carrying this for so long? Why did I start? What part of me is held back in another time?
So we begin to see the other baggage that we don’t even know we are carrying. As we consider the stuff, we can become aware of the feelings and beliefs it represents. Clinging that we are unaware of slowly reveals itself without any real effort. We just have to be open to it. Expectations, wishes, even hopes that don’t fit us anymore, or perhaps never did, begin to reveal themselves. Even as we strive we have been keeping ourselves from our true path and so our suffering is inevitable. Our path is there, a bit buried, but we are have been too busy nurturing our disappointments to see it.
There are things we’ve taken on from others, often our parents, that are not of our own nature. We wanted to be like someone, or perhaps we even seek their approval. We didn’t know it until now, until we stopped to ask why we cling to this, what are we waiting for? We will always fail in these endeavours because these things are not of us, so we do not have the strength to truly see them through. Yet we cling to these beliefs of a life that is not ours and they drain our energy from the life that is ours.
And even if we are successful in one of these endeavours, the feeling will be hollow and short-lived for this was not our success. We will be disappointed, perhaps even angry, that there is no one waiting to approve of our achievement. Meanwhile we have failed to develop our own unique strength, to be carried by it to our true successes. We need to sweep away the clutter, to find and travel our authentic path so that we are nurturing ourselves, instead of some mirage on the horizon.
Decluttering our lives reveals surprising unclarity here, long lost forgotten gems there. As we reduce the distracting input (oh, the relentless torrent we allow!), we begin to hear our own hearts again. We realize that we have only been responding and reacting to the flood. We have done this for so long that as we close the tap we are engulfed by an emptiness. With no prompts from without to follow, we must learn again to rely on our own unique music. We will not be afraid, for soon the song of our heart will fill its rightful space again, if only we can give it this needed time.
Simplifying life for our children is a great teacher for parents. For we cannot ignore our own ways and be authentic with our children. Embracing simplicity deeply gives us the same benefits that we wish to bestow upon our children. Only then do we feel how much this has been what we have always needed.
At first simplicity seems to be about less, until we see that we actually have much more. Of ourselves.
Are you simplifying your life? Has this enabled you to mindfully toss out old beliefs along with yesterday’s unfinished projects? Share your experience here.