After writing last week’s piece I was reading “The Lessons of St. Francis” by John Michael Talbot, one of my favorite books on St. Francis. In the chapter on “Simplicity” he noted, “Living your life engrossed in the cares and chaos of the world is not only bad for you, it’s bad for others as well.” He went on to add, “Although North Americans make up only a small percentage of the world’s population, we consume a large amount of the world’s limited resources. Ours is a world in which few possess much, while many don’t have enough to meet even their most basic needs. This chasm of disparity calls out for a compassionate response, and part of that response can be found in simple living.”
This gave me pause in the continually chaotic state I feel that I have been living my life. I took a number of extended moments this week to really consider this. To put it into perspective of my life and what I hold as important. Or maybe a better way to say it, what I hold as important right now and how I have complicated my life with stuff.
I witness the impact of the entitlement that has become so much the norm from the exception. My parent’s generation, those who made it through the Great Depression did not approach life this way. However, in a generation we Baby Boomers have created in corporate environments and with our children a level of entitlement that is in no way sustainable.
I worked hard for everything I have, and I have far too much! I justified it as a way to relieve the stress generated by my job and my lifestyle. Focused far too much on acquisition than truly building into the world that which is most direly needed for us all to survive. I am ashamed and humbled by these thoughts.
We are a me, me, me society. I believe this is why so many outside the US see us the way they do as arrogant, rude and wasteful.
Because, face it, we are!
So I have begun a process of the first two steps in what I think is going to be my personal survival guide.
I need to first take a bit to really give thanks for all that I have. I have been incredibly blessed. I have a long and strong marriage to a woman that puts up with my vast array of ills. I have two kids on the cusp of heading out into this world with both good heads on their shoulders and the skills to make it. Add to that the joy and pride I receive from comments from others about what good people both my kids are. Maybe we did something right. God has seen fit to give us good health and a more than good living. Truly my cup runneth over.
We do not live extravagantly; however, we have a lot! Much we have accumulated over the years, and I especially have accumulated being the gearhead I am in the way of vehicles and parts. Our closets and our storage runneth over. In reality you do not have to be extravagant to accumulate a lot. There are so many things we have that, I am sure, have not been touched in years. My garage alone is a cornucopia of tools and the stuff a man who is handy tends to accumulate. I have tools that I have not used more than a handful of times but I just had to have them at the time!
So, step one will be to reduce. I am beginning a thinning process that will do two things. Gain me a little extra cash that I plan to put into a special account to give back to the world in some way. Additionally, I want to begin to let go of the entitlement I have to stuff and the headache that comes from being tied to all of it.
So step 1 in my Personal Survival Guide (PSG Rule #1) – Thanks & Thinning
Consider it a life diet.