Still reading The Sacred Life by Michael Yankoski. And it’s still rocking my world. I’m making myself read it slowly and allow myself to digest what I read; I’d hate to miss something important because I got too excited and read the entire book in a sitting.
I just finished the chapter on simplicity. And it rings so true.
The tragic irony of today is that we’ve been pushed toward a new kind of slavery by the rhetoric of freedom, liberty, and self-determination. Instead now we find ourselves mired in the intensely arrogant belief that the pinnacle of freedom is a society of individuals running around pursuing whatever they feel like, without any thought whatsoever about what we’ve been created for. (The Sacred Life, p. 70).
As I think on this quote, I see this everywhere. Living in the US, I hear variations of this phrase a lot: “We’ve got freedom of speech; I can say whatever I want!” Heads up, that’s not what the First Amendment means.
Beyond that, I see this twisted sense of freedom rearing its ugly head in my life. Surely, I have the freedom to enact Sweatpants and Netflix Standard Time (SNST) on my days off – it’s exactly what it sounds like – but should I? I feel like making brownies from scratch and eating three of them in a sitting while SNST is enacted, but should I? Answer: definitely not.
Yankoski talks about his own struggles with this sense of freedom – his desire for more wealth. And his idea of “enough” was “just a little bit more.” In that sense, enough is never enough. We will always want “a little bit more.”
Suddenly I see how coercive the idea of more has become in my life. I drive myself toward it ruthlessly, utterly bound to the idea that bigger will always be better, that larger will be stronger, that just a little bit more will be safer, sturdier, more stable. It’s always future tense, never present, always just around the corner of the next accomplishment, the next milestone. I’ve been blinded and have blinded myself to the abundance around me by constantly searching for the evasive and fleeting and retreating more. (The Sacred Life, p. 72).
After all, unchecked growth in a living organism isn’t called health after all. Cancer. That’s what we call it. And left untreated, it is lethal. (The Sacred Life, p. 73).
Growth that is left unpruned is like weeds in the garden, invading and dominating all surrounding plant life. I don’t know about you, but I realize that I need to temper my own desires and work on pruning some things in my life.
Yankoski describes materialism not as the addiction to things, but as the addiction to “the experience of obtaining something new.”
Lines outside of Apple Stores – people camping out for a new mobile phone.
Queuing on the cold morning of Black Friday for special deals.Midnight movie premieres.
Midnight novel releases.
It doesn’t seem like we’re free at all.
I’d say Yankoski hit the nail on the head.
Later in the chapter, Yankoski outlines four simple actions to refocus our sense of freedom.
Prune. Purge. Reclaim. Delight.
The pruning and purging to me are the same thing when it comes to what I should do in my life – get rid of unnecessary things. And the term unnecessary spans a wide variety of things currently in my possession. My husband and I have a hierarchy in place just in case we are suddenly without our incomes. At the top of the list are Internet and cable. We can get rid of those things and survive. When my husband first proposed this to me a few years ago, I gave him the most bewildered look. Now, I get it. I can live without the internet. And some days, I’d love to not have the internet around to distract me. And I can live without cable. In fact, we did for the first two years of our marriage.
Today, I went through my floordrobe (yep, still have stuff on the floor of our guest room from moving in four months ago) and gathered several bags (more than I thought!) of clothes, handbags, and shoes to give to Goodwill. I’d been meaning to do this a long time ago, but it was reading this chapter that gave me the push I needed.
The reclaiming part is something new to me – using the things you have rather than replacing old stuff with new stuff. Pinterest in a haven for repurposing materials into beautiful, functional furniture. My new home is in need of a few things – namely a dining table, bookcases/shelves, and two office desks/one mega desk. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on these items, why not put the money into making our own?! I’ve been delving into DIY blogs and Pinterest for ideas and inspiration. Now, to find some wood pallets…
And delight. Enjoy the true freedom of ridding your life of stuff.
Prune. Purge. Reclaim. Delight.