Thursday, February 18, 2010
So I'm starting to read this book called How Philosophy Can Save Your Life: 10 Ideas that Matter Most by Marietta McCarty, and decided I would try to write a post based on it each week.
The first idea is about Simplicity, and of course, I throw it into overdrive.
There are suggestions for readings, songs, poetry, and more, and I take it upon myself to download all the poetry, buy all the songs on iTunes, and bookmark all the texts on Google books.
Right, like that's simplicity.
What it makes me wonder is, why do I need to overcomplicate things? Why can't I just focus on one thing at a time and let it soak in?
Why do I need these constant distractions and endless chain of puzzles?
The easy answer is that, I don't.
Sometimes I remember this when I am meditating regularly.
Well, to back up a second, McCarty encapsulates the teachings of Epicurus, then asks you to state five things you will remember and use in your life. So let me just try for that.
1. Public life (and social networking) makes tranquility impossible. We need a retreat from daily life, not constant engagement. It is important to distinguish between real responsibilities and the "extras". You have to prioritize your engagements, which for me means having real connections that create deep intimacy, not shallow Facebook interactions. Something I've always believed in--it's better to have a few really good friends, than 1000's of acquaintances.
So why am I leaving my Facebook/Twitter/Ning/Yahoo Groups tabs open all the time? In the goal of promoting my (and other's) Etsy shops, I am trying to open these kinds of connections with people, but is that really what I want? Ultimately, I would like people to benefit from their interactions with me--a smile, a break in their day, a cozy, warm, comfortable scarf or two. But it needs to be meaningful, not just another busy distraction for people.
2. Simplicity is the key to pleasure. We don't actually need that much to live, just appreciate what life sends you. If you remember to take the time to savor the small things, you won't have room for desires and wants.
3. First, see what you actually need to be happy, then don't seek more than that. When we master our desires, we gain peace of mind. I know that from Buddhism. The question is really, what is essential? My answer was basic breath, fresh air, sweet water, wholesome food, a calm, clean environment, and someone you love who loves you. I have those things, most of the time, so why do I try to clutter it all up? Leave everything else behind. Don't let desire strangle you. Such good advice to ponder...
4. Satisfaction is unalterable by external circumstances. Another Buddhist tenet. The only way to find satisfaction is to look within. More meditation, coming right up!
5. "An unadorned life is full of pleasure and lasting satisfaction." In America? When are we ever unadorned? A couple of weeks ago, I lost my nose ring by blowing my nose too hard and putting the kleenex in the trash, which was then picked up by my custodian at work and taken away. When I realized it was gone, I felt naked. Why? When did this adornment become part of my identity?
Well, that's enough for tonight. I'll come back to this another time. Hope you have a wonderful, simple week, and feel free to chime in with your thoughts about simplicity!