“Simplify, simplify, simplify.” ~Thoreau
“Don’t you think one ‘simplify’ is enough?” ~Emerson
I remember reading Emerson in high-school and being fundamentally changed by him and his philosophies. As time passes, my appreciation for his wisdom and simplicity of understanding the essence of living only increases.
As a teenager, when I read this interaction, I laughed. It was perhaps the only time I thought Thoreau had a point over Emerson because of the drama of repeating words…and yet, Emerson’s response is the one that has haunted me ever since. What does it mean to simplify? What does that look like…feel like…sound like…taste like…what do I lose when I simplify…and why is it necessary?
Being a teenager, still transitioning from concrete to abstract thinking, I automatically assumed that Emerson and Thoreau were speaking from a materialistic perspective…which I found ironic as Thoreau lived on Emerson’s land on Walden Pond, Emerson paying him to build the cabin and clear the brush around the lake. Emerson also provided seeds and other basic supplies in exchange for Thoreau’s labor. My assumption confused me even more, because there wasn’t coherence between my assumption and the facts. So, what did either Emerson or Thoreau actually mean?
Because my parents were missionaries, we moved a lot. Our houses varied in style, age, layout, and setting, but the constant, the thing that always turned the houses in my home, was our stuff. Certain tablecloths, end tables, lamps, paintings, kitchen appliances, towels, recordings, instantly transformed the space into my home. When it came time for us to return to the United States, my parents wanted to sell the majority of our stuff. To me, they were eliminating my life…my home…everything I had ever known. I was devastated.
For the next ten years, I spent a lot of time and money accumulating things to replace all that I had lost. I treasured those things, and jealously guarded them. Pain repeated when a box of my favorite books was lost in a move. Slowly, as I continued the pattern of moving frequently in my adult life, my accumulated treasures began to leave too. I tried to tell myself that Emerson was right…just to simplify and I would be happier…but it didn’t ring true for me.
Then 2012 came. During the first six months of the year, I was completely rebuilt…from the inside out…like a two-lane road being upgraded to a six-lane freeway. All sorts of stuff came up for me in those six months…limiting beliefs, emotional baggage, walls and partitions, secrets, relationship expiration dates, possibilities, and massive amounts of fear. As everything stripped away emotionally, I experienced a massive amount of anguish…because I cherished all of those things. They defined me…much like my physical possessions defined home for me. I had no idea what or who I would be if all of those foundations of my being were gone. I had no clue how to orient myself…define myself…describe myself…be.
So, I sat…and waited…letting the transformation happen…waiting for the results to trickle down to this dimension. When Mercury Retrograde hit in November, I had an urge to purge. Drastically. I thought my purge two years ago had been drastic…I had eliminated 50% of everything I owned…the first time I had ever voluntarily released possessions from my life. While I haven’t once missed anything eliminated two years ago, the process had been exhausting. All kinds of emotional baggage had come up and by the time it was all over, I felt raw and vulnerable and very unsafe emotionally. This time was different. This time, I was compelled. This time, I was prepared spiritually for release. This time, I was no longer defined by possessions…rather, many of my possessions were limiting me…the possessions that didn’t reflect my core self…the true essence of me.
And this is really the beautiful alchemy of 2012…this time of now we are experiencing. This is the truest definition of the command, “Simplify!” Allow all of those things that aren’t you to fall away…all the social patterns and structures and behaviors and thought processes that have been imposed on you but don’t fit you…all the walls you created to lessen your brilliance, hide your true essence, in order to limit yourself so that you could fit others’ expectations of you…these are complicating things. These things, while vitally important at one point in time, are no longer. What is, is you. To simplify means to allow all of your internal definitions to fall away and fully face and embrace the complete you.
For you are magnificent…rich with your own inheritance of wisdom, knowledge, personal power, and self-control. When you are simply you, the world is then your oyster.
Be. Then create.
And so it is.
- Simplify! (psychiatristblog.wordpress.com)
- The Road Not Taken (sanctuaryofmysoul.wordpress.com)
- Ralph Waldo Emerson (celebrationofnow.com)