“Out of clutter, find simplicity.”
― Albert Einstein
(photograph:storefront window / Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2013)
I was walking down the sidewalk of a side street, late yesterday evening, while on a quick trip to Savannah, Georgia, when I stumbled upon a most interesting storefront. At first I wasn’t quite certain as to what type of business this actually was that I had wandered upon. There was a poor old philodendron plant that ran the length of the inside window of the store. Dead leaves out numbered the living leaves and were scattered along the very sad sprawling vine running the length of the storefront window. It was perched amongst dirt, magazines, keys, and junk. It needed pruning, cutting, watering and simply a good cleaning…the window itself– filthy.
The store was full of “stuff” that sparkled in the fading sun; immediately drawing ones eye inside to the massive array of keys dangling from a million hooks– like that of a groaning tree struggling under the weight of a million shining Christmas ornaments hanging on for dear life– covering each and every wall. There were several old time cash registers… one propped up by the door, another perched on an old timey safe far too small for the register. There were old lanterns hung precariously from the rafters, tin and various old metal salvage items laying on the floor….
Was this some sort of Antique store, junk store, locksmith or all of the above? It did catch my eye and it strangely beckoned me to come in to explore. However it was well after 5, closing time long past….Beckoning and yet repelling at the same time—made me a little nervous. It was dirty, dusty but interesting…….
Ecclesiastes 3:6….a time to keep and a time to throw away….
I too have accumulated a great deal of “stuff” over this lifetime of mine. Things that are mine and my husband’s, things that were Mother’s, things that were my grandmother’s, my great-aunt’s, my grandfather’s, my son’s left behinds, my future daughter-n-law’s transition things, and now my dad’s things….family treasures that are now “cluttering” my house and my world. But everything seems to have a story, a connection…what stays, what needs to go…..I can’t seem to let go.
I had vowed that once I retired it was time for me to “let go” of so much of my “clutter”… but so much of the “stuff,” my stuff, is compiled from the very pieces of my life. My past and these “things” are parts of the connections to and with my past. And yet, as I have read so very much about Francesco Bernardone and of his conversion…of his literal take on God’s often metaphoric words, of his stripping himself of all of his worldly connections, including his clothing..leaving him naked, exposed and yet free to take up the simple cloak of a simple man whose only desire in life was to hear God’s word, to follow His word and to live His word…..
How can any of us attempt to hear and follow, just as St Francis heard and followed…how can we do that and do that very well while we attempt to manage all of the “stuff” in our lives? The “stuff” which requires so much of our attention, our concern, our worries….it gets in the way, it blocks a clear cut path, it’s burdensome….and yet we cling to it so tightly……The old cliche “you can’t take it with you” rings so very true and yet we are all so overpacked with all of our clutter.
St Francis knew the answer. Einstein’s quote states the answer. Ancient scripture teaches the answer…SIMPLICITY. Learning to live a life of simplicity verses the standard chaos and clutter is no easy task. Our western society’s motto has always been bigger and more is always better. From biggie sizing our food to our desire for name brands and luxury items, to always acquiring the latest technology. As soon as you walk out of a store with, say, the latest and greatest phone, a new more advanced device is advertised the very next week, leaving you yearning for the new toy and feeling “less than” with the old toy, which was brand new itself the previous week—leaving you with a drawer full of really good phones, just not the latest and greatest…..a vicious cycle indeed and sadly a genius of mass marketing…
So perhaps we are often “victims” of our own clutter. We fall into the marketing and sales traps…those slick sales gimmicks that insidiously slink into our brains taking control of our very will power and wallets without so much as nary our knowledge…..we must fight the desire and simply say, “NO”– no more, I have enough thank you very much—-my house is fine, my car is good, my clothes are nice, my furniture is functional…but what about the economy you say, we must do our part to keep the economic growth in our country….yada, yada, yada…. See what I mean—it’s a vicious cycle indeed.
Now back to my clutter and less is more….
I will leave you today pondering this dilemma of mine and no doubt of your very own…time to down size just as Dad is saying you’ve got to come get everything out of the basement and don’t you want Mom’s this and that…..the list goes on.
Maybe there is just a little more space in the basement……..