1. Too much stuff, too many things


Well, here we are at post number 1 (of one hundred, you’ll recall). I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about, until serendipity sent this post on Becoming Minimalist my way.

To begin with, a quote:

“All of man’s difficulties are caused by his inability to sit, quietly, in a room by himself.” —Blaise Pascal

Yep. That’s a lot of what I want to talk about right there. About how important it is to be, as I say, “happy inside your own head.” I know lots of people – easily the majority – for whom time spent with no book or music or television or phone or whatever, some distraction or other, is just the most deadly time of all, to be avoided whatever detriment that might cause. “Oh, I couldn’t wait an hour, I didn’t have a book with me!” Well, hello, actually you could easily wait an hour, you’d just have an hour to spend all to yourself, with just yourself and your thoughts for company. It feels like a lot of people just don’t know how to sit and think, without being, in effect, told what to think about. The post I’ve mentioned here is specifically aimed at meditation, and that’s not something I feel like I do as such: except, maybe sitting and thinking, alone and quiet, is in fact meditating. Whatever, that’s just nomenclature – whatever it is, it’s something I’ve always done.

Instead, their lives are molded by the voices that bombard them each day from the Internet, television, radio, magazines, and celebrities.

(I’m not going to quote the whole piece by the way, breath a sigh of relief!)

This struck me though. I know this is something that youngsters seem to be afflicted with – although I wasn’t, even as a child – but it also seems to be more and more common among adults. And it’s related to the Pascal quote, and also just to habits in general. People need this stuff, these things, this noise, to fill the void that they think exists in their heads. Once people get into the habit of filling the quiet with noise, it becomes just that: a habit. Impossible to imagine life without it. Like all habits, life is then arranged around it. And you know what? Soon one noise isn’t enough to still that dreadful silence. No, now we need the TV and the phone. Now the TV, the phone and a quick check of email. And so on. And on.

Their desires are ever-changing and are quickly swept away by the newest fashion, most recent technology, or opportunity for financial gain.

Yes. I’ve been there. A lot of tech-desire can fall into this category. It’s like a double whammy in fact: the noise around the whole desire, research, buy, obtain, configure, tweak, upgrade cycle; and also that the end result of a lot of tech is to open up yet more channels to more noise. Whereupon, once the noise level from that channel has settled, it’s time to desire yet another object, and begin the whole cycle again.

A society built on the foundation of consumerism must attack gratitude—only if they can sow discontent in our lives can they sell us on their new product or latest version with new improvements.

Yes! This thing, this desire to consume, to own – where does it come from? Not from within us, that’s for sure. When I see the (less than two year old) Waawo-ette Junior running around the place, she has no innate desire to own the latest thing. Oh, for sure she might want something right now: it’s the bright red thing she can see atop the cupboard; or the noisy thing on the floor; or the furry thing purring its way around the lounge. But she doesn’t wake up feeling the need for the latest building block upgrade. This all comes later – right around the time peers, and school, and competition are introduced. If we let it of course. One of our biggest goals is to bring up Waawo-ette Junior to have a deliberate, mindful, or as Joshua says, an intentional life.

I love the image of society actually attacking gratitude. For our western society is so deeply built on consumerism, this idea of need and want becoming interchangeable, or the same thing, is powerful indeed. It takes a real effort of will to keep out the forces of marketing and advertising, so cleverly designed to separate us from our money and, in an awesome feat of collateral damage, separate us from what really matters in our lives.

Last quote:

It is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy. And that gratefulness quickly leads to a satisfied, simplified, focused life.

Just the thing we’re after. Satisfied, simplified, focused – these things are not just means, and not just ends – they are both at the same time, intertwined through our way of living life and what we get out of life.

Oh, definitely the last quote:

More meditation. More gratitude. Better living.

Which I would paraphrase as: More being quiet. More joy. More contentment.

Enough for today – I’ll try to be less rambling next time!

[Picture: the Waawo-ette Junior, decidedly unconcerned about what block version she’s on!]

External links:
Becoming Minimalist

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