I'd sat down last night with every intention to post, but as is the case with me, I need time to digest and meditate on the topic at hand. So it comes to you at 4 am after a day spent in the microcosm of a hospital. A loved one's routine, yearly it seems, outpatient trip through the medical maze. This time it netted a powerful idea.
Maybe the idea wouldn't have glistened so brightly had I not found it in the surgical waiting room, where our human experience is reduced to life and death. And The Price is Right. Where for a short burst of time, strangers come to know exact shades of expression in each other, and through the sheer intimacy of unspoken fears, the room becomes a lifeboat. Phone-liason volunteer at the helm. Enough coffee to float us and enough look-at-my-celebrity-baby magazines to carry us straight to the bottom. Life reduced.
In yesterday's USA Today, a columnist outlined his experiment with simplicity. Over the course of a year, he pared down his life. His original goal was to reduce spending, but the idea overflowed with the unintended consequences of happiness and gratitude. The rules were simple: 1. purchasing books and music are allowed. They nourish the mind. 2: purchasing gifts for others is allowed. 3: Accepting gifts is okay. 4: Never buy anything for yourself. 5: One year.
My first thought was: only a writer could pull this off. A writer could knock around the house in hole-infested briefs and find creative ways to skirt the rules. The job already lends itself to poverty and a socially-acceptable form of insanity.
Then, I considered the families who checked out of society and went back to live for six months in nineteenth century conditions for the PBS series. The idea always appealed to me. I couldn't help wondering if I had the strength to shed my pest-controlled, central air-dependent life. Always, the families re-entered the present time closer for the experience, their souls richer.
I don't want for anything, save the love and health of those around me. Everything on my cork board cannot be bought. I am blessed beyond belief that I have the time and luxury to lament over rejection slips while others can't make their next house payment. So, what if a family could learn to want for nothing in the climate of excess we live in? What if at the beginning of that year, we pared down to the essentials and material things with meaning and memories--the basics of everything we loved and entered into the experiment with garage sales and charity donations? What if we spent the year recapturing the joy of giving, the art of thankfulness? Is it possible? Would my family detest me or would we emerge on the heels of one of those life-lessons that would forever change our fabric?
Life reduced. Without the bling of a showcase showdown or the misguided beacon of those celebrity magazines. A lifeboat to find our true selves.
Could you do it?