Sunday, February 27, 2011

Intensely simple

It's easy for me to complain when life gets intense. "Intense" comes in many different ways: work commitments, lots of kids to care for, a serious illness, debts, moves, (name your own intense situation!). Now, we don't have all of those going on right now, but plenty to make life feel kind of intense sometimes.

In our current season of living intensely, I'm noticing this pleasant, lingering side effect - intensity makes my life simpler.

It's counter-intuitive, that life being "busy" and "hard" makes it simple, but it seems that it is true. Here's my anecdotal evidence...

When I make my to-do list each morning, it's an easy, thoughtless process. Cook dinner, take the trash out, shower, run, grade papers. And all time in between will be spent immersed in my family, students, or strangers along the way. Fairly simple.

When the boys are awake, I play with all the kids. As hard as possible. Much less meandering to the computer or a magazine or the kitchen. (Except for right now, as I'm blogging - ha!) Precious few minutes mean playing hard.

If I'm fortunate enough to be home at the same time as John, it's got to be mostly quality time - no time for distance or disagreements. And it's (usually) not too hard to avoid those, since I'm just so happy that we are together.

When I'm working on "school" work, there are few distractions allowed. Must. Get. Through. This. Stack. Before the boys wake up!

When I long for friends, it's quite simple - take whoever drops into your life. Family and friends who temporarily move in with you. The neighbor who comes up the hill. The friend who insists that you go to coffee together. Don't stress about seeking out more or doing more, there simply isn't time now.

When I feel like cooking something more than frozen soup or spaghetti, I don't. A little dish-washing plus a little play time are far more valuable to the family right now.

This intense simplicity blankets nearly every area of my life right now - not just marriage, kids, and work, but also church, spending, recreation, involvement at the kids' schools or at work, and on and on. Strangely, in spite of the occasional exhaustion, the intense simplicity is mostly refreshing!

So with just enough time and energy left to complain OR be thankful, I guess there is one more fairly simple choice...


Don said...

"Show me someone who is bored, and I'll show you someone who lacks meaningful challenges."

Happiness is often a function of meaningful involvement. You've got lots of meaningful involvement and thus... happiness! And an intensely simple life.

Attitude is a choice. I'm always glad to see you choosing wisely... and I try to follow suit.

(I have a 3 to 5 page essay due next Friday... 1/20th of what you've got going on? But enough to be challenging and sustainable.)

Happy Sunday! (Thanks for blogging.)

danielle said...

um i was really hoping for a shout-out, jo.

Jay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jay said...

What a great post!

Many years ago I remember writing some similar thoughts for a parent's newsletter- long before blogs . The title was" Trimming Back the Suckers - alluding to tomato plants-about living simply and getting rid of energy draining activities.

Keep it real!