The minimalism book Goodbye, Things, has some short lessons on removing the unwanted from your life, but also general life lessons.
One idea he mentions is that all of our possessions are calling to us all the time. Looking over at the dishes, they say, “Come, wash us,” and our Bed screams, “Make me,” and the bills demand, “Pay me.” The art supplies say, “Let’s play!” and the forgotten yarn beckons “Remember when you used to knit? Let’s do that again.” Everything that we own is talking to us, a silent form of conversation, and each extra thing becomes a silent to-do list.
I find that this applies to possessions as well as ideas in my head. A new thought shouts with possibility, “You should do that!” Seeing a beautiful flower arrangement, I hear, “That would be fun to learn how to do.” The things around me, whether those belonging to me or others, seem to be commanding me.
Perhaps there is another way – each thought, each idea, each seeming demand can be seen as an invitation at most, and even simply a call to appreciation and action. Each thing, each moment of beauty, asks only to be seen, the way my children, when they call, “Look what I did!” really mean to say, “See me!” So, too, the ideas, the possessions, nature and life around me, just like the people, are simply saying, Pay attention.
And I can choose how to respond, rather than react. I can.
- Notice it, give it my time and care and attention. And then, perhaps, let it go.
- Make note of it, and add it to a to-do list for later.
- Say, not right now, maybe later.
- Look, smile, notice, and then kindly respond, No thank you.
And then the to-do list vanishes, not because it’s complete, because it simply was noticed, and it was given the attention it needed and deserved.
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