MY SIMPLE LIFE 7

“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” This wonderful quote by French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery, is a powerful inoculation countering the corporate sponsored narrative extant here in the U.S. that more is always better. The dissociation between modern advertising and any resemblance to real life experience clearly illustrates the necessity for a dissenting viewpoint.

The fact that the things you own have very little correspondence to your happiness is just the sort of bare knuckle truth that gives corporate executives, whose only goal is the maximization of profit, night terrors. The only thing that might seem worse to them would be the average consumer awakening to the reality that “newer-is better” has, in regard to many products, become patently false. Instances abound of newer being more complex and difficult to work with, more expensive to purchase, more maintenance intensive, and less efficient. Examples of this are sitting on every store shelf as I type.

Armed with the understanding that more and newer is not always better we’re prepared to circle back to minimalism and apply it correctly, resulting in less work and more unallocated time and resources, which can then be directed in ways that better benefit our lives. We’ve begun removing the obstacles to a more contented life.

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My Simple Life 6

In this post I want to explore deeper into the misconception introduced last month regarding possessions. The current narrative that the more we have the better our life will be is pathologically wrong. It also happens to be the root cause of a great deal of suffering when foolishly used as a measure of personal value. It’s an idea worth letting go of.

The why of it is very simple. Your possessions are not you. This ancient precept can be found everywhere from 3rd century B.C. Stoic philosophy to Buddhist non-attachment.

One useful and necessary step toward a simple life is developing a clear understanding of who you are. Minimalism helped me in a general way by cleaning out the clutter, after that I had to turn off the T.V. and give a hard look at the correlation between myself and the things I had. I couldn’t find a single one that was intrinsic to who I was. There were tools for chores, items related to hobbies I enjoyed, things with sentimental value, but not one thing that would render me incomplete if it were lost.

I don’t mean to imply that possessions are bad in and of themselves. They aren’t, and the ones that serve us should be meticulously maintained, what they shouldn’t be is loved. Liked, yes. Appreciated, certainly. Not loved. They are things, their only value is in what we can accomplish with them.

Now that we’ve employed minimalism to remove the junk and begun separating our belongings from our identity we’ve initiated the process of coming to know who we are through reverse engineering. In other words, we’re discovering who we are by learning who we’re not.

My Simple Life (prequel)

The clock of industrial society is winding haltingly down to midnight. The truth of that statement isn’t difficult to see once you allow yourself to look beyond the heavily powdered and rouged façade of  “want to be” and into the unadorned countenance of “what is”.

There are a plethora of Doomsayers of every stripe imploring us to see that unlovely face as the Armageddon and prepare for the penultimate moment. Across the figurative way are the Soothsayers, insisting that everything is fine while they haul buckets of rouge.

Both groups can be unbelievably entertaining to watch, being equally clueless. They resemble nothing so much as travelling snake-oil salesmen, hawking the virtues of one useless paradigm or another.

If you’ll kindly pause breathlessly while I climb up on my soapbox I’ll offer an, err…… anti-climax. Friends and neighbors across the world, there is no need to panic. Nothing, not one thing, unprecedented is happening. We are simply hitting a few pot-holes on the descending side of societal arc. Every previous society has experienced it, as will every one that comes after. It is part of the natural order of our Cosmos.

Latecomers to the show, noticing that the doomsday clock stands at two minutes to midnight, have assumed imminent annihilation is upon us and reacted either with panic or utter denial. What they missed is the context in which that clock operates. It doesn’t tick off minutes and hours, but rather decades and centuries.

As I type this, mainstream media is busily expounding the “horrors” of the federal government shut down this morning. The vast majority of us dealt with this emergency by going about our day normally, which is the correct response. We’ll do the same thing tomorrow, and the day after that. This shutdown is one of those pot-holes I mentioned. Further along on our descent they’ll increase in size and number while the effort needed to cope with them gradually increases.

We may well be far enough along to hit some frighteningly large ones in the short term. They will no doubt be upsetting, none however, will be apocalyptic.

It’s time, passed time in fact, to prepare ourselves and our children to function within a society in decline.

Mead Making

The origins of the antiquated art of fermenting honey are lost in deep time. Where the first batch made it’s appearance, reported to be between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago, is a mystery buried in eons. Little chance exists that it will ever again be part of our living knowledge.

What remains to us, the process and practice of it’s making, forms a more direct connection to our history than any found among ancient texts. Consider that a brewer today may mistakenly ruin a batch in precisely the manner of a batch ruined 400 centuries ago. Difficult as it is for each to conceive the other’s existence, they are bound together by unbroken tradition.

With a history that can be measured in geologic time, it is right too that mead should derive from honey, the only food uncorrupted by passing years.

May Mabon bless the mead-makers of every age in turn, until the Cosmic day draws finally to it’s close.

SAM_0119

Congratulations! (a diatribe)

I’d like to take a moment

and acknowledge the enormous success

achieved by those magnates of

modern industrial society.

 

The battle was by no means an easy one

opposed by truth at every turn

motivated by nothing more

than the desire for financial gain

 

What stunningly ingenious fabrications

cut from whole cloth

how reasonable their presentation

made them appear

 

Integrity, morality, ethics

unhesitatingly sacrificed

on a golden altar

in the name of wealth

 

What glittering wonders

of technology

sold at exorbitant prices

you can afford to buy!

 

Still, with overflowing billfold

what coinage is required

for the washing away of stain

from a corrupt heart?

 

 

 

 

 

Societal Musings

Observing our society,

I find much that isn’t clear to me.

We opine ourselves rugged individualists,

while berating anyone who doesn’t look, act, or dress like us.

Is this cognitive contradiction,

what we get when television makes our decisions?

Elected officials use this medium.

Trumpeting the urgent need for regulation,

from which they exempt themselves.

Everyone gets a public school education,

where students are free to choose an approved destination.

Conformity is the lauded goal,

learn what to think, not how to do so.

Rugged individualists you claim?

Explain, please, why they are exactly the same.