Sunday, July 22, 2007
LIVING THE SIMPLE LIFE
Since I retired it seems like everyone who visits me leaves emotional problems at my door. I don’t want them but I still get them. It’s true that with less physical participation in the world around me, reflection is my prime occupation. So with this being my current thought agenda, of course that is what visitors, in all graciousness, are going to discuss with me.
Certainly, we could discuss more practical things, but as a retiree, no longer propelled by the forces associated with rung-climbing, financial gains, or glowing acknowledgments of progress made, I’m not exactly in the loop. And furthermore, it seems to me, that I am suddenly finding that an age gap of a meager 10 years readily explodes into a gap of gigantic proportion when I engage with my juniors in conversations that focus on the dynamics of competing in the work-a-day world. I guess the forces that used to push me to play at politics by subduing my real spirit, or applying the right spin, or speaking with wary reservation, have fallen into disuse, and thus pretty much caved to my failing memory.
But in discussing emotional problems with others, I have discovered something surprising. There was, and never will be, a generational gap in the basic needs of the human soul for love, hope, happiness, and courage no matter how successful or famous we may become. These needs remain for all time, and for all people, as fundamental as our physical need for food, shelter, and clothing.
Ultimately the basic essentials of life, whether physical or emotional, never change even in a world strained by shifting tides, seasonal changes, and weather that coddles one area while badgering another. A world, where almost daily, our surroundings are altered in unexpected and spectacular ways. Where issues of tolerance stagger far past or fall well short of the equity mark. Where environmental concerns raise us to a panic level. Where moral conflicts drive us to utter distraction. Makes one long for a simpler life, doesn’t it?
And so, it seems to me, if we can return to a simple emotional life in the way so many people long to return to ‘the simple (physical) life’, everything will become mighty fine. Simplifying might allow us to find soul space outside of the rushing tide of greed, competitiveness, and pack-thinking about money, success, notoriety, self-fulfillment, and self-enhancement. And in that new freed-up space something else can take root and thrive – something soft and gentle and comforting.
I’m thinking maybe peace and solid appreciation for each new day. Like the consequences of industrial effluent on the climate, too much emotional effluent creates a sea of toxins in the soul. A massive thing called corruption.
Yes, our physical environment needs protection, but so does our emotional environment.