Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Simplicity - a wider view

First of all, sorry that this is a day late. This weekend was the time for the small MfW in my home, and as usual it took a while for me to recover. But it was well worth the recovery time! Every month I seem to be meeting at least one new person (which is really making me feel part of the wider Meeting), as well as building relationships with people I have already met.

I've been thinking a lot recently about simplicity. I'm starting to see that it is not just a matter of avoiding conspicuous consumption, or refusing to follow fashion, but is a concept that can be applied to every part of our lives. When I was unable to spend more than a few minutes online yesterday, I started to worry because I would be creating a backlog of things to read which I would have to tackle today. I am on several mailing lists, Twitter and Ravelry (a kind of Facebook for knitters and crocheters), as well as subscribing to a sizeable number of blogs through Google Reader.

This made me stop and think. Was I reading all this stuff because it was important to me, and really entertained and informed me - or was it just habit? Did it all nourish me? As the BYM Advices and Queries 39 says,

Be discriminating when choosing means of entertainment and information.

Did I really need to spend ten minutes every afternoon reading a selection of cartoons, when I could be doing something more interesting?

So I pruned. I dropped a couple of mailing lists, a whole pile of Google Reader subs, and five of my Ravelry interest groups. It felt like a weight off my shoulders.

I should really know better than to overburden myself. I have been trying to learn to pace myself for nearly twelve years, to dole out my limited energy on the things that are important, and to pass on the things that I can manage without. It's a constant trade-off, to try to keep myself entertained, informed and in touch with my friends without trying to do so much that it lands me back under the duvet, unable to spend time and energy on anything other than sleeping and feeling awful. This is one more step on the way to knowing what is best for me and, while I am a little sad that I am still having to remind myself, it's a step I am glad to take.

(For an excellent perspective on living with limited energy, I recommend the Spoon Theory, from the wonderfully named website, But You Don't Look Sick.)


Gil S said...

Thanks for this Heather and for 'Spoon Theory' too - a great aid to understanding

Serena said...

Thanks for that reminder Heather. It's a process I find I have to go through every so often, when the list of groups that I follow has grown too large.

I find it can be a difficult balance to get. On one hand, it's very easy to fritter far too much time and energy on reading things, just for the sake of it. On the other, I do find it valuable to read a certain amount about other people and other lives, to remind me that there is a whole big world out there.

Your post was a valuable reminder to me though that my list had expanded again and was very much overdue for pruning!

RichardM said...

Hi Heather,

Mostly I just wanted to let you know I haven't pruned your blog from my to-do list!

Yes, it is wise to be discriminating in our use of time and energy. Quakers understand that you need to spend some time doing what the world would call nothing, that is just waiting and listening to God, in order to discern clearly a simple things we ought to be doing. It's easy to lose sight of those things in the face of all thing things the world suggests we should be doing.

Liz Opp said...

Thanks to Gil for pointing me here. I have begun wrestling with the same topic--the intersection of simplicity and "electronic consumption."

I feel less alone, having read this post, and I see I have a few months of reading to catch up on in Still Life.

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up