Simplicity Ain’t As Easy As It Looks

The alternate title considered for this post was, “What Was I Thinking?”

hand-truck-564242_640I was sort of on a roll for awhile, posting here several times a week, engaging with comments on the QuakerQuaker.org site, and settling in to my spiritual practice of simplicity. However, shortly, my life suddenly became complicated. And I chose it.

You see, I made a major lifestyle decision which was a professional decision as well. It became crystal clear to me, over a matter of a few days, that I was at a crossroads. The time had come to move out of my home office, where I have run my business for the past 12 years, and find a “real” office space. Once I had discerned that it was time, all of the details lined up. I found a place that met all of my criteria  – location, price, handicapped accessibility, and the intangible “IT” factor – in about ten days. The money appeared to make the deposit and pay the rent. I was on the move.

Moving is complex. I had to select those things from my home office that I wanted to take with me to the new space, and which things to leave behind. My new office looked like a picked-over Salvation Army drop-off destination; my home office looked like a post-tornado disaster area. I had to plan what furniture I needed, and how I would decorate the new space so that it was comfortable and welcoming, but not distracting or overwhelming. The myriad details of the little stuff I didn’t know I needed until it became obvious turned into a rather long list. However, the needs were supplied by the gift of a wonderful piece from my daughter and her husband that I use as a standing desk in my reception area, and several surprise gift cards for Amazon and Home Depot from friends, clients, and colleagues. Every need was met, each meeting seeming like a miracle. I was IN BUSINESS. I built it, and the clients are coming. It’s an amazing, exhilarating, joyful, terrifying feeling.

On the home front, I had felt restless and frustrated for some time, without really being able to put my finger on exactly WHY or WHAT it was about. Well, it was about the elusive work-life balance, which was, shall we say, “Off.” I’m amazed that a home office worked for me as well as it did for as long as it did. However, I found that I was squandering the time in between clients. I began to define my work day by when the clients were booked, instead of devoting “non-client time” to business development, study, routine maintenance, and visioning. I could start a load of laundry during the breaks, or chop vegetables for dinner, or play with the cats. I felt less and less effective, and more and more harried. Now, laundry, grocery shopping, housecleaning, cooking, and cat festivals have to be planned and scheduled, rather than emerging organically and spontaneously in the moment, as my artistic personality type much prefers. It has been a big adjustment.

Six weeks later, I can say that, despite the initial chaos, order has evolved. New and improved routines have helped me to be more present when I am home, and more focused while at work. Perhaps the most lovely aspect of the path of simplicity is that one can adapt as one deems best. Even though I embarked upon a major upheaval of old patterns and forms, the decision itself seemed inevitable, what Quakers would call “a leading.” Complication has evolved into something else: the simple, elegant life dance of complexity.

All About That “Base”

Creative Commons License Image via Wikipedia.org

My worshiping community, the Live Oak Friends Meeting, has a new floor. And it’s a big deal.

The old floor was irreparably damaged approximately eighteen months ago, by a leak in the pipe leading to the hot water heater. It was a beautiful hardwood floor, and replacing it was no simple matter. The Meeting House contains a Skyspace by contemporary luminary (and illuminary) artist James Turrell. The replacement materials had to be approved by the artist, suppliers flaked, and the continuing discernment of the Meeting ground on. “The floor” has been a saga with a fair amount of drama, sometimes under the surface, sometimes on display.

During those eighteen months, the temporary solution was a large piece of industrial grade carpet, which covered the entire floor and made it possible for the Meeting to continue to use the space. While I had been to a concert there over five years ago, with the original floor, I had only experienced that utilitarian carpeting in the ten months that I have attended.

Last week, the doors opened, the early Meeting Friends were departing, and Adult First Day School was about to move into the space. My eyes opened wide, and I gasped. The wood floor had been installed! Simple but beautiful folding chairs, rather than our benches, were arranged in two facing semicircles. IT. WAS. GORGEOUS.

The floor had not been sanded yet, or finished, but it was there. You could smell the wood, just plain wood. Stepping into the room and onto the floor just FELT different. Solid, not squishy. The sound traveled and rang, rather than dropping and muffling, soaked up by the carpet. Unvarnished Truth.

As I sat, with my feet on the floor, I could feel my bones. I could feel my feet resting, leaning, if you will, into the floor, and the floor supporting my whole skeleton. The floor was firm, unyielding, the grounding truth, reliable in its presence, someplace where you could take a firm and steady stand.

As a movement educator, I appreciate the value of a good floor, and rarely take it for granted. Your action of standing, your weight pressing into the floor allows the floor to press into the soles of your feet — that’s how gravity works! Your skeleton springs, effortlessly, into the upright stance that distinguishes humanity from other species that have evolved in this planetary environment. To feel the ground clearly is to be able to move with power and skill, in a fully embodied expression of human-ness. .

Others must have felt it, too. Like the return of an old friend, people were smiling, warm, open. Emotions were vivid, vocal ministries flowed, Friends lingered in the space afterwards. As I paused to appreciate the shift into newfound stability, a thought came to me: it really is “All About That Base.” The earworm was unleashed (you’re welcome), an irreverent, playful, gentle gleam shone from my eyes, as I turned to greet and embrace my Friends.

Today’s Quote: Lord Byron

“Her great merit is finding out mine – there is nothing so amiable as discernment.”  — Lord Byron via BrainyQuote.com

Cartoon chat bubbles
Public Domain image by OpenClipArt.org

Ah, Lord Byron. Seductive, self-serving, impulsive, yet self-aware and capable of inspiring great good. The quote above has just the right amount of irony and humor. We tend to like people who also like us. Aren’t THEY brilliant?

As I searched for images for this post, most of them  related to discernment are clearly related to decision-making. This road, not that one. People obviously in the midst of making weighty and correct judgments. What struck me about Lord Byron’s observation was deeper and more nuanced. It was that “She” could see his merits – his good qualities, the very best of the essential “Him,” imperfect and, well, Byronic, as he was.

Quakers might say that She was able to perceive “that of God” in Byron. This is beyond giving people the benefit of the doubt, or looking for the good in everything and everyone, or other such platitudes, even though those ideas are pretty good. Perceiving “that of God in everyone” requires not that we pick them apart, keeping that which is of God and discarding the rest. Instead, we accept the whole glorious, amazing mess of that person, and then focus on, speak to, relate with, that person as if God Him/Her/Self – The and Their Inner Light –  were actually present within. Because it IS.

In a complex or controversial conversation, discernment requires listening through the emotions, the wanderings off point, and the personalities to find the needle of truth in a proverbial haystack of clutter. Assume that somewhere, if you really listen and look, that a hidden treasure is in there. Who would stop looking for a treasure that they knew was right in front of them? And yet, we do. All the time.

Lord Byron was clearly deLIGHTed to be perceived in such a way. It lit him up. When someone discerns my Light, I am drawn to them, and more easily discern the Light within them. Discernment in this way results in harmony, in love, in patience, and in peace.

When have you perceived someone’s Inner Light? Did it change the quality of your interaction? When do you recall a feeling that someone perceived your Inner Light? What effect did that have upon you? Please leave a comment.

 

Allow Me (to introduce myself)

Thanks for dropping by! I’m MaryBeth, and I’ve been blogging since 2005. I like to write, and have launched a couple of different sites for the small businesses that I run. However, the promotional pieces I wrote there, while (I hope) informative and entertaining, didn’t often feed my soul.

This blog goes in a different direction. After pondering off and on for a year, I realized that what I really wanted to write about was the spiritual path. Mine has been long and winding, but kind of interesting as I have surveyed the landscape and followed what spoke to me in my life at that time. I’m convinced that the impulse to simplify life is a universal one, and a great place to revisit often on one’s spiritual journeying. Recently, it came to me that it was important that I share these ideas here, and now. I aspire to be practical and down-to-earth, free of drippy spiritual jargon and easy judgments.

A lot of this writing will simply endeavor to make sense of what I find while attempting to align myself with Something Bigger, The Universe, God, the Christ Spirit, whatever vocabulary works for you. I’m learning all the time, and I’d like to learn from you. I’m not sure where I’m headed, except in the most general way – “The End.” I intend to have a good time along the way.

Please introduce yourself in the comments. What brings you here?