When I arrived home from Montana, I expected the Grand Moment… the Ta-da of completion.
It didn’t happen.
Not only was the job not done… part of what was complete was not how I had imagined. I started stewing. Within minutes of walking in the door, I wound up what I had spent the last week unwinding.
My distress mushroomed into a sleepless night.
This capacity of mine for fretting gets in the way of simplicity. It’s a habit that I’m not happy about. And so I’ve been fretting about that too. Which, having stated the fact, is almost funny. Almost.
Rainer Maria Rilke has said this: ” Be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves”. The question I am tussling with here has to do with what gets in the way of living simply. If I am going to love the questions, then I have to take time to build a relationship with them. I have to visit that wild country inside.
As I mentioned before, I like tidy. Yet that interior wilderness that I long for is messy… sometimes difficult to be in relationship with. Unpredictable. Hungry. I’ve spent the last two weeks in a long conversation. At the heart of the conversation is the definition of simple living. It’s different for everyone. For me, a new word, vital, has asked for serious consideration.
My vintage 1944 dictionary defines vital this way: 1, pertaining to, or concerned with organic life; as vital functions; 2, supporting, or essential to, life; as, air is a vital necessity; hence 3, anything fundamental or essential to the matter in hand; as, a matter of vital importance; 4, containing life; full of life.
Almost a year ago, I made a collage with photos that inspired me and random words assembled from various magazines. The top of the page begins like this: “Coming home to calm, to the cottage, living vitally, strong in body and spirit”. I have the collage on the wall next to my bed so that I see it when I wake and when I do my morning stretches.
The word came up again a few months ago during a webinar on time management. Instead of prioritizing my to-do list with have-tos and want-tos, the suggestion was to ask what is vital. This was a totally new concept for planning my days. One that doesn’t come naturally.
Am I living vitally?
What if I had asked myself, as I returned home from Montana, what is vital here?
I might have chosen gratitude instead of fretting. Gratitude for the safety of my trip home and the safety of my two cats. Gratitude for the warm house and new back door. Gratitude for the opportunity to resume my routines.
I had been busy anticipating completion of the remodel so that I could sleep in my own bed again. When I was disappointed, I focused on what was wrong instead of what was right. In my relationship with the Questions, you might say I had a little misunderstanding.
One of my friends likes to use “do-overs”… the chance to redo an experience that didn’t work out well.
I had my do-over the next morning. First of all, I cleared a space to do my stretches. Then I cooked my favorite breakfast of tofu carrot soup complete with sauteed shitake mushrooms. After that, a walk.
As I headed outdoors, I saw the beauty of green all around me. The pond down in the wetland was full; the weeping willow nearby was telling stories about the miracle of moisture. The air, in its saltiness, was exhilarating. As my feet touched the sandy shoreline, I felt, once again, the blessings of my simple (and not so simple) life. So what if the work was not done? I had a vital conversation to continue… perhaps dinner by candlelight and a celebration of coming home to calm again.
A person with your creative canvas abilities could make the porch a winter mudroom with removable windows/curtains.
What a sweet and simple place you have!
I’ve been thinking on that! It gets more complex every day!!! Nice to hear from you, Susan. And thanks for reading my blog.
Wow, that looks great. The driftwood was totally necessary for the new to fit in with the old.
I thought the same about the driftwood… everything looks so dang new!
Solely concentrating on what’s vital has been unattainable for me so far. A fertile mind just keeps on giving! I once had a magnet on my frig, Stop Thinking.” When can I come see your little piece of simplicity?
Yes, I work at holding the thought of vital as I look around at the various fires that need attention. They are urgent, but not necessarily vital…
Great post Jeanne! I like the way you use the question of “what is vital?” to frame your piece and your honesty in observing yourself as you approach it.
I also like the driftwood.
Thank you for the gift of your blog. Your entries inspire me to think in new directions.
Thank you Kelly!! Your feedback during the writing process has been so wonderfully nurturing for me, and don’t forget, it was your blog that originally gave me the courage to dive in!