Where is the simplicity of life?


Where is the Simplicity of Life? Why does life nowadays seem so complicated? And so problematic? So many choices to make everyday – everything we eat or want to buy or think about involves multiple choice decisions. We listen to the world-wide newscasts and are inundated with the happenings, terrorist bombings (the Boston marathon bombings that happened just this past week), disasters, wars, unrest and climate change. What will our future be like?

When these things begin to disturb my thoughts and my sleeping, I return to the small book by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea, that has been one of my mainstays in my home library for many years. Anne brings me back to the simplicity of living. Even though she wrote these short essays way back in 1955, her words prophetically speak of life today and certainly provide us better food for thought than the day’s screaming headlines.

Anne writes: The world is rumbling and erupting in ever-widening circles around us. The tensions, conflicts and sufferings even in the outermost circle touch us all, reverberate in all of us. We cannot avoid these vibrations.

We are asked today to feel compassionately for everyone in the world; to digest intellectually all the information spread out in public print; and to implement in action every ethical impulse aroused by our hearts and minds. … Modern communication loads us with more problems than the human frame can carry.

It is good, says Anne, for our hearts, our minds, our imaginations to be stretched but body, nerve, endurance and life-span are not as elastic. She then asks: faced with this dilemma what can we do?

Because we cannot solve our own problems right here at home, we talk about problems out there in the world. Can one solve world problems when one is unable to solve one’s own? Can one make the future a substitute for the present?

She believes that the present is being passed over in the race for the future and that the ‘here’ is being neglected in favor of the ‘there’. The individual is many times forgotten or dwarfed by the enormity of the ‘people’, of the ‘mass’.

The good past is so far away and the near past is so horrible and the future is so perilous, that the present has a chance to expand into a golden eternity of here and now. She believes that we must learn to enjoy the present moment even if it means merely a walk in the garden, sipping a cup of coffee at a sidewalk café, or enjoying the cooling breeze on a seaside beach.

What have I learned from Anne? That simplicity of life, while not one of the goals of most people today, should be what I strive for. That happiness and contentment is being grateful for whatever I have, whether it is little or much. Now I believe that simplicity of life for me is being able to enjoy the present moment, being able to see God’s loving hand in my life and the lives of those around me, being able to have the courage and faith to live each day one day at a time, and to welcome my tomorrows.