It takes a lot of effort to achieve simplicity. Life is complex nowadays.
As far as I remember, when I was a little girl, life was all right. I was trying to remember this afternoon what I use to eat when I was in elementary school. I don’t remember everything, but I remember that some days was a banana with oatmeal, or a warm bowl of cooked oatmeal with cinnamon. Some afternoons when I would get to my grandma’s home from school, she would fry an egg leaving the yolk soft, a slice of Italian bread and homemade butter, and a glass of warm milk with honey.
For lunch we had rice, beans, a lot of vegetables picked fresh from our garden, beef or chicken, sometimes sardines or anchovies and cod fish. For dinner was soup, I remember especially a few that my grandma made like with pinto beams and spaghetti, or with peas and bacon. Weekends we had the perfect homemade pasta with roasted chicken or beef marinade.
The holidays were special. We would have turkey, panettone, ‘leitoa pururuca’, and many times, Brazilian churrasco. The soda we had was Guarana or taubaina, and life was simple, and filled with joy, time with family, outdoors playing and study a lot at the nun's school.
It was okay to buy one pair of shoes a year for school or when that old pair was poked bad, just a few new clothes for Christmas or a birthday. We children would spend the most of our time with cousins playing outside, climbing the trees, riding our bikes, playing school or dolls. Just because it was enough.
Every Sunday we would go to Church all family together, as we lived not far from each other.
I remember we had one TV in the living room, and that was rarely used, unless it was raining. Mom would spend the morning taking care of us, the house, sewing or cooking, listening the radio’s series. At night, dad would get home from work and we'd have dinner. Later, prayer, picture books and good dreams.
Sunday afternoons the family would gather under the yellow plum tree. We kids probably were climbing the branches and throwing those big yellow plums to everyone. Laughter, life and memories that will never be erased from my heart. I cherish them.
Today everything is so different.
We have a TV in each room, computers, iPods, iPads, iPhones, Droids, Blackberries, video games, laptops, Kindles, and then came blogs, email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, frozen or fast food, hundreds of big sales with lots and lots of clothes and shoes that we do not have place for everything. It's easy to have more than we can handle.
There are cars, houses, jet-skis, snow mobiles, cars of all shapes, sizes and kinds. A home for three people need to have at least 4 bedrooms to accommodate everything we accumulate. More we earn, more we want, more we buy.
It is a false sense of security that pushes people to a hole like a prison. It slaves us.
Not so long ago, stuff was valuable. Today everything is a lot cheaper, so we instinctively accumulate it.
But clutter saps our spirit.
I don’t recall my first heart beat. Each of us has had pains, trials, joy, and have been corrupted in a way that it seems we can’t live without all that we surrounded our life.
So, when did that start?
It has been on earth as long as I have lived. This 'progress' (or regret?) of humanity that gives more of everything, translated as 'comfort'.
In the process of becoming ageless, I have slowly started discovering the whys and the wherefores. The most of them I know simply by living. You know more than you imagine using your own senses.
Sometimes so many stuff get in the way, and we have the right to shout. Shout loud!
Or maybe assume totally our inner silence. What do we really need? Why?
Opportunities like this to realize what matters most. They come and go, and we make the most of them. I am, therefore I am. Patience always pays off in the end.
We live in a time that Emergency Preparedness is real. We need to be ready when anything that is not in our plans of life will strike us. It can be a natural disaster, death of close relative, unemployment, divorce, illness. It doesn't matter. It is important though that we will be able to have the necessary before the superfluous.
In Psychology, detachment refers to "inability to connect" or "mental assertiveness". Two so different meanings, and useful tools to be able to simplify. It's urgent that we learn to reconnect to ourselves, but, to what really matter. We need connections to live.
We need to know ourselves in order to be paying attention when the clock rings that all is too much.
We need to wake up, stop, and go back to basics.
Take care of ourselves first, and acquire new and healthier habits. If life does not allow us to do that, we need to change something. It is not just about stuff. It is about balance of mental disposition to do what we suppose to do.
One day at a time.
It can be a cluttered room or an entire house. It can be a lot of personal problems with family, work, friends. It can be doubts about beliefs and ideology.
We need to learn to slow down and focus on the things that matter most. We all know what and who they are. Yes, we do. We need to assume it definitely.
St. Ignatious Loyola counseled radical detachment:
“We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one.”
Dieter Uchtdorf completed:
(Of Things that Matter Most, General Conference October 2010 - Pres. Dieter Uchtdorf)
He also reminds us of what the basics are:
1) Our relationship with God
2) Our relationship with our families
3) Our relationship with our fellowman
4) Our relationship with ourselves.
To achieve a healthy and peaceful life we need to have every single area of our life in balance. Maybe it’s hard and out of reality to think we can achieve a total and perfect balance in everything, but our effort to meet that goal is priceless. And we have it inside of us.
Because every little thing we use to stuff ourselves in this life will not be with us in the next. Just our relationships. The love we give, the gratitude we breath, or the knowledge we live.
While I was in elementary school, I did ballet classes. At one of the final years, I participate on a festival doing a solo. The piece consisted that I would dance by myself a beautiful arrangement of a Brazilian song from a very talented composer called Oswaldo Montenegro. The name of the song was Bandolins.
In that presentation I was using a light flowing ballerina gown with different skirt levels of silk and organza pastel colors. It was me that looked more like a fairy, and a fabric rag doll. I would dance whirling at the song and, at one point, it would be a silent meeting between my solitude and hers.
Probably as a little girl, I didn't understand exactly that piece I was trying to represent. I was just around 10 years old that year. But it still soft my heart to remember the small crowd that would want to see me after the show, with tears in their eyes.
Today, I still remember every single move I danced on that piece. Maybe if I would be watching a little girl do that piece of ballet, I would have tears in my eyes today.
That moment meant that the girl could be lost in the crowd, but she had found herself in her inner purpose. She started dancing feeling lost, with the doll being her only friend, depressive, sad and helpless. But as she developed and recognized her inner strength, she silently grew into the rhythm of the music, and assumed herself capable of doing anything her dreams allowed her to.
I had the room all to myself. All that space was mine to enjoy. It was quiet and cozy, with the melody of mandolins.
When I realized that I’d put my trust on my doll (my inner strength), I danced with her. But, as the music progressed, I’d overcome with joy at my good fortune, and I danced with reckless abandon, because my solitude made me free.
I had earned it.
What this memory has to do with simplicity?
We can turn depression and feelings of being unable to our benefit. We can use this dream of freedom of all this worldly stuff we accumulate to positively influence our doings and erase our wrongs. We can get rid of what we don't need in life and learn to focus in what is essential.
In the end of the dance, I remember I would look to a mirror, and by the end of the melody, look to myself and that confront with the true "me" was a pleasure I had never before experienced. It was the sweet sensation of feeling good on my own skin. The feeling that I owed nothing to anyone, and anyone owed me anything.
The freedom of stay and be what I was meant to be.
Maybe it’s a little suspicious that practicing detachment of things will happen with this ease.
But perhaps we can have it as a lifelong goal to pursue. As we simplify life focusing on the things that matter most, with time and patience, we will be able to dance through life and look ourselves in the mirror and experience silence.
Translated not as a moment of doubt, but of peace.
Accomplish simplicity is one step to eternal freedom.