Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify. Henry David Thoreau

This morning I had some thoughts about the various ways by which we make our lives unnecessarily complicated. We do it in large and small ways. Instead of using one bar of soap for all of our needs, I find myself using an entire assortment of products that do the same job as a humble bar of soap. One could probably make a case for the food that we prepare and eat as well as the clothes we wear and the method of transportation that we select.

As I make sense out of the things that we do that could be simplified, I first have to understand why we made them complicated in the first place. Some of them are obvious. We use multiple cleaning products because we persuade ourselves that our faces need care that is different from what we deliver to our knees and feet. And if one spice is good for seasoning, twelve must be better. It’s variety, trying new things, aiming for the best possible consequences, and in the best case, to find methods that are easier and potentially less expensive.

But ultimately, I think that Mr. Thoreau is right. As we have fewer items from which to choose for any purpose, our decision time is reduced and ideally, we have spent less money. In another realm, we have minimized the number of things that surround us. There is less clutter, fewer areas to clean, more streamlined processes, and efficiency. The best outcome is reducing the amount of stuff we have in our lives. Eliminating junk promotes peace of mind that is otherwise less available.

The older I am fortunate to get, the fewer things are necessary to make me happy and fulfilled. Let me have my books, my laptop, my secure home, and most importantly, my indescribably terrific family. Clothes are shoes are nice to have, both for the purposes of being in public and for keeping comfortable. But at this point, I am thinking long and hard about what must be done to all of the things that I have acquired once I am gone. I’ll keep working on keeping only the things that matter, both for now and for tomorrow. Shalom.

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