When the complexity and demands of modern life press in upon us, many of us yearn for simplicity. We look at the clutter and wonder what we can throw out; we look at our list of commitments and wonder what we can eliminate. I came up with a different approach last week, and it has begun to pay some dividends.
Simplicity is a quality of artistic living. When clutter and agenda items press in, the better approach is to organize. Some people are very good at organizing; they have it down to a fine science. I admire this, but what I’m interested in here is something different. It is an intermediate level of organizing, enough to take away stress and release our energies for making progress, whether that means fresh motivation to tackle the item that obviously needs attention or to buckle down to work out a more thorough organization plan.
This philosophical and artistic step, as I think of it, involves a vision in which essential categories have a place. The vision does not need to be spelled out. Just realizing that there is an order, a beautiful arrangement—even a vague intuition is enough to take away the stress.
The beauty of that vague vision of order is enough to refresh the sense of the divine way that is gradually emerging in our lives and in our world. We are not victims of problems and difficulties, even though we go through problems and difficulties.
The minimal vision of order reminds us that there are multiple categories of agenda—not an overwhelming number. There is conceptual intelligibility, relaxation, space for us to freely and creatively move forward.
An effective vision of order does not have competing priorities at the top level. There is one priority at the top. At the moment, I’ll simply name that priority “God.” At different times I use different words to express the divine priority.
Simplicity is not a naked, stripped down, monolith, standing alone in the desert. Simplicity is an oasis with movement and life. Simplicity graciously contains multiplicity; it is not an authoritarian master.
As a symbol of simplicity, I like this photo by Imma: the peaceful scene on the lake, broken only by a water ski jump, seems just right. The ski jump adds focus, awakens imagination, breaks the unrelieved smoothness of the surface of the water, and adds a relaxing human touch to the scene.
At this point in my life, my material artistic living challenge is to organize my workspace. As I refresh my vision of an emerging order, I will be able to get rid of things that have no proper place in my area. No matter how long it takes, I will succeed.
What do you think about such things? Any experiences to share?
Photo by Imma: http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/775577