You click the wrong spot, and you never know where you’ll end up. I did that the other day, and since that wrong spot was in Eudora, my Email application, I ended up with a garbled in-box. Over 500 messages had been waiting for me to deal with them, and now they’ll never be dealt with. Rather than try to sort out the messed messages, which I already knew was impossible (previous experience, believe it or not), or search for missing information that now was dislocated, I trashed everything in my in-box.
It’s over 3 ½ years since the last time I did this. Here’s a poem I wrote then:
CLEAN-UP OF TIME POLLUTION
I lost everything in my in-box
Messages I intended to answer
Articles I hadn't read
Political actions, invitations,
Birth of Jeremiah congratulations,
So why aren't I up-
656 messages waiting for action from me.
Now there are none.
Suddenly I'm free.
Did I learn anything from that first mistake? Yes. Let go! It was time for those messages to say goodbye.
Have I learned anything from the second mistake? Yes. But I don’t yet know what it is.
Beginning on Gallery Night, October 19th, our son Eli's vibrant, richly textured paintings will be on exhibit in the North Room of Rosenblatt Gallery. Unlike his parents, Adolph and me, who work directly from life, Eli creates his own dream world triggered by the many places he's traveled and the characters he's met there. And suddenly you are there with him, in that playful, brilliantly-colored world of strong-faced men and women stealing glances at each other, or puffing on cigarettes, or waiting. You can see some of his work on his website and on YouTube,
Adolph's environmental sculptures and my oceanscapes and dancers are also on view in the gallery.
Rosenblatt Gallery, 181 N Broadway in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward, is located above Artasia Gallery and Museum. Gallery night and day hours, Friday, Oct 19, and Saturday, Oct 20: 10am to 11pm
If intention were action, I’d post a blog every day. I always write one. In my head. Sometimes I write down the first paragraph, in fact don’t yet know whether this will be merely another first paragraph. I find almost everything interesting, but can’t find time to write about it. And if intention were action, I’d post a blog after every Second Sunday Soup and Salad Salon. First we share our food, after that our thoughts on a specific topic. We examine the issues that affect our lives, philosophical, environmental, cultural, political.
This month I resolved to write beyond paragraph one, maybe because our topic was voluntary simplicity, which covers every aspect of how we live. Simplicity enforced by poverty was not the topic, nor the simplicity that will be imposed on us as climate change progresses, but simplicity chosen by those who are lucky enough to have that choice. What is it, what does it require of the individual, where are each of us now? What is the media’s impact on this? Why do so many people buy into the importance of THINGS?
We touched on the range of complexity entailed in simplicity and how each of us deals with it. People mentioned personal quirks they were trying to work on, like the man with more shoes than Imelda, or the woman trying to get rid of her excess so her children won’t be stuck with it.
My view: to live simply we have to examine our lives, know our priorities, know what makes us content, recognize that things are merely things. Here are a few things I do, or avoid doing:
I don’t drive, but rather bike, walk, or bus
Grow my own vegetables, but what about all those trees that make the crop smaller each year?
Make sure my grandkids know how wonderful it is to eat food you yourself have grown
Use fresh produce, preferably organic, preferably local
Avoid processed foods, red meat, farmed salmon
Minimize eating out
Use organic products for cleaning and lawn care, avoiding pesticides and other poisons
Recycle, and that includes buying, when possible, at rummage sales
Keep the thermostat low and wear sweaters and long underwear in winter
Minimize water use, hard when I have a vegetable garden
Remind myself to let go, of things that don’t really matter, of the things I want to do and don’t have time for, of things I own but don’t need.
Use whatever talents I have to make people contemplate their own impact on their surroundings. That’s why I’m writing this!
There’s more I do, and much more I should do. One thing I want to say: every single item on my list enriches my life rather than depleting it.
Yvette wrote this to me after last Sunday’s salon: “I realized that my life has been simplified over the last 5 months due to a change in my eating. I've become a vegan (by default) to help reduce the tinnitus (ringing in my ears). I've reduced the amount of food I consume. I cook more and eat out less. I buy most of my veggies from local farmers markets and have taken the time to nurture myself in this way. It has been a worthwhile journey. Change your eating, change your world!...One point that we didn't discuss: Rhythms can greatly simplify our life. We create a harmonic rhythm to the day and it flows as we flow with it. We can also create a beautiful rhythm to tasks that come on a routine basis. It requires conscious thought and aware alignment, but ultimately as we align ourselves with the rhythm of the universe, we find flow and peace in voluntary simplicity.”
I wrote Glow Ball Worming for our Earth Poets and Musician performances last April. It plays around more poetically with my ideas on voluntary simplicity and ecological living, which are intertwined. I hope you’ll add any thoughts you might have.