Saturday, July 30, 2005


Wouldn't it be great if you could make a decision about simplifying once and for all - and it happened? That would be as great as making a one-time decision to give up junk food and never have to think about it again! Why can't things be like tattooing? You make a decision to have a tattoo, it's done, and it's over with and "activated" for the rest of your life.

The journey to simplicity, unfortunately, it not like tattooing. It is one major decision, carved out into little pieces of decisions day after day after day. Sometimes you stop on the journey, sometimes you actually lose ground, and other times you're full speed ahead. But it's a journey, nonetheless, and demands the mental and emotional focus of a journey. We may take a "break" but we cannot afford to "wander off" into the woods and forget about the trip altogether.

It's actually difficult to blog about the journey, because, using the sacramental words of the liturgy, it is an "outward and visible sign of a inward and spiritual [change]." Some of the changes are easy to write about, and some are still percolating on the stove like one of Ed's pots of delicious soups. "Is it ready?" I ask him impatiently, not being a cook myself and not knowing the signs that something is finished. Ah, it may be edible but not necessarily ready.

Which brings me to toenails. Yesterday I spent a few precious hours with 2-year-old Caroline, who was her usual precocious self. Our daughter, whose new house has no grass in the yard yet, requests that guests remove their shoes inside, so on this particular day I was walking around barefoot, following little Caroline, who was trying to show me where her "arts and cafts" box was so we could do some painting. At one point, Caroline turned to me, looked down at my feet (she always seems to have an obsession with feet!) and her eyes widened. "Gammy!" she said in awe. "YOU HAVE TOES!"

Now I want to assure the reader that I am anatomically similar to all other human beings in that yes, I have toes, I have always had toes, and Lord willing I will have toes the rest of my life. Her excited observation startled me for a minute. Caroline has seen my toes, hasn't she? Haven't I taken naps with her? Haven't I worn sandals in front of her? It took me the rest of the day to realize what had happened. She had seen my toes before, but my toenails were now painted with nail polish. I had done that this month to "spruce up" for Matt's wedding, and I realized she had never seen them colored before. She knew in her mind that I had always had toes, but something was different, and with her advanced but still limited vocabulary, the only way she could express her newly found insight was "YOU HAVE TOES!"

The journey to simplicity has been full of these "aha" experiences, hard to blog about but important nonetheless. Sometimes the words just can't convey the depth of things we are discovering about ourselves, our lifestyle, our wants, our needs, the lessons we are handing down to the next generation, and the attitude we are presenting to the world as a society. But these experiences, like the soup, can percolate for awhile. And every once in awhile, I can lift the top of the pot and breathe in a most heavenly smell, and exclaim in awe, like Caroline, "WOW!"

1 comment:

Tif said...

You really ought to compile these posts into your own book.