The Power of Simplifying

There is a freedom in simplifying. We have all felt it: deleting emails, donating belongings, camping. I am due for a purge. Since having kids and moving into a larger house, I am flabbergasted at the amount of stuff that has collected in my life. I grew up with all the necessities, plus some extras. I had enough that I did not lack anything big, but little enough that I appreciated everything I had. My parents instilled in me a recognition of how fortunate I was. I do not know how they instilled this characteristic in me; their method was not overt and I’m not even sure they knew they were doing it. They never told me how lucky I was. Perhaps, I just picked up on their own attitudes.

My son loves airplanes. Today, I counted the number of toy airplanes he has. I quit at 12. Can quantity sometimes detract from specialness? I mean, he enjoys piling up his planes and flying around the house, but he also enjoys wearing a towel and pretending they are his airplane wings or special rocket boosters. Does having so many toys increase imagination, or does the quantity decrease imagination?

I love my kids, and I understand now more than ever the temptation to spoil them. But then I remind myself that the word spoil can also mean, “to go bad.” I want my kids to grow up feeling entitled to a good and happy life, but not feeling entitled to everything they want. Happiness weighs a lot less than stuff.

A few months ago, our family went to Costa Rica. One of the things I loved about the trip was the simplicity. We only brought what our suitcases could hold. The kids had a few toys and a few books (though they got just as much joy out of playing with sticks and sand). I promised myself that I would bring some of that simplicity back home to my life in Fernie. So far, I’ve failed. I had good intentions, but I fell back into old patterns and into the hecticness of the everyday. I race around attempting to complete a never ending to-do list, taking breaks to check a phone that I like to think I own, but that, in moments of honest reflection, I realize owns me.

Summer break is upon us, and I am hoping to inspire myself to infuse more simplicity into my life. I am ready to be amazed at how much fun we can have throwing rocks into the Elk River. The calendar feels full, but I know it is still possible. No, I don’t think my days will be as stress free as they were vacationing in Costa Rica, but there is lots of room for simplifying and the freedom that comes with it. I can give away some airplanes. I can leave the phone at the front door. I can pass on books I will never read again. I can walk in the woods with my kids and be reminded that we need very little. I am ready to simplify. I am ready to let go of stuff.