I have been thinking a lot about being single at 57 years of age, lately. Without going into unnecessary detail, I was briefly married a long time ago to an unpleasant woman. I have never felt compelled to take a chance on repeating that mistake. That is why I find myself single well after the half-century mark.
Here’s the thing: I am not bothered by being alone. I have always been comfortable with my own company. I believe that this has fostered in me a certain self-sufficiency. I answer to no schedule but that which I choose, and I find a lot of satisfaction in that. I would probably make a really good hermit, as long as my cave had WiFi.
Frankly at my age, it’s hard to imagine having someone around all the time. I have work, church, and friends, so I’m not planning on changing any time soon. I am, as Mary Chapin Carpenter sang, alone but not lonely.
I can’t believe I’ve been away from here for a month! Time to get back into my groove!
As I continue my pursuit of a simpler life, I’m sometimes surprised at how far I have come, and how far I have to go. The thing is, this simpler life thing is not a one-time effort. It is an ongoing process. I think I have picked most of the low hanging fruit and now it is time to reexamine what I have accomplished. My goal is to determine what steps I take next.
For example, I got rid of a lot of unread books and magazines early on, and mostly switched to e-books and magazines. Over the past couple years I’ve accumulated a small stockpile of hardcover books, a couple magazines that aren’t readily accessible as e-zines, and comic books (a store opened up nearby, which is hard to resist). I plan to go through all of my accumulated hardcopy reading material and mercilessly purge. I am also going to investigate the cost effectiveness of a service like Comixology for digital copies of the comic books I like.
I’m also going to go through my clothing again, and anything I haven’t worn in the past year will be donated or turned into paint rags. As much as it pains me, I am also going to inventory my tools, and eliminate duplicates. A couple of winter projects are going to be scanning my photos and ripping my DVDs to a terabyte drive. Clearly, I have my work cut out for me.
But realistically, if a given item is neither useful to me nor a source of joy, I don’t need it taking up space in my life.
Living an intentional life draws from many elements. Simplicity, thoughtfulness, and self-awareness come immediately to mind. As I continue to seek to live a more intentional life, I find that I am almost always on the upward slope of a learning curve. Certainly, I’ve had my share of setbacks. We all do. It’s not an easy and natural condition for most of us, this intentional living.
I am reminded of a scene from The Empire Strikes Back, in which Yoda describes Luke’s lack of focus. “This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. What he was doing.” Focus is a major aspect of intentional living.
It is a good thing, to plan for the future and to be prepared. The inverse is, it isn’t good to ignore the present in favor of the future. If you are going through a tough time seek support and help if needed, and persevere, rather than ignoring the issue and hoping tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow can be a better day for any of us, but in my opinion it takes an intentional effort on our parts for this to come to fruition.
I enjoy listening to and reading from John C. Maxwell’s works. I’ll close with a quote from him: “Intentional living always has an idea. Unintentional living always has an excuse.” I urge you to have ideas, not excuses.
In no particular order of importance here are some things that I learned this past week.
If you have it, you hardly notice it. If you don’t have it, it’s sorely missed. What is it? Good health! Issues lately with my knees and my eye- all mostly resolved-have made that clear to me.
I can only do so much, which has become clear to me at work and in my private life. I’ve recently been maxed out at my job and my off-work “free” time has been appropriated. I need to learn to say “no”. Or perhaps, “NO!”.
The downside to cooking a lot of something to eat all week is culinary boredom. A better choice may be to cook smaller batches of several things. And hot sauce-hot sauce is good!
Worry is a total bummer. Worry about things you can’t control or even influence, more so.
A simple “thank you” and card can really make someone’s day, which makes both parties happy.
Something happened at my church this week that got me thinking about complexity and simplicity. We have a 14 year old audio-visual system, from back in the days when the church was big enough to have a praise band. These days, like many churches, not so much.
So, the sound mixing board is about 3 feet by 5 feet and has more buttons and knobs than I know what to do with. Seriously, there was no user manual when I took over a few years ago. The mixer connects to a cabinet full of rack mounted devices, most of which are terra incognita to me. Anyway, this past week the audio amplifiers croaked. A technician came in and replaced a few items and bypassed a couple others, and we should be able to get by for a while.
Here’s the thing: this church building was built in the 1800s and it was designed for the human voice. There were no amplifiers, no wireless microphones, and certainly no electronic speakers. In its simplicity, the sanctuary was designed to reflect and amplify the human voice without any assistance.
There is a lesson here about not being dependent upon complicated systems, which can apply to more than just a church A/V system that went on the fritz. So let me ask you: how can you apply this concept to your life?