Simplify

“Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.”
–Proverbs 29:18, NIV

 

I’m too busy. Well, at least that’s what I keep telling myself. If I’m being honest, I probably have a lot more available time than I might let on. I find myself scrambling at the last minute to do tasks that could have easily been done earlier had I not been binge-watching Psych or something stupid on Netflix… again… for the fourth time. If you know the line that’s coming next, you’ve probably seen enough!

I have time set apart each morning for doing my devotions and writing. So why am I using my coffee break at work typing frantically? Sometimes I apply an inappropriate value to things. If, for instance, I still feel tired when I get up to let out the dogs and begin my morning routine, then I may go back to bed, even though I know I will just lay there and not sleep. I have overvalued the warmth of the bed, and significantly undervalued my devotions and writing. And I often overvalue “downtime” in front of the tube and undervalue the things that need to be done around the house (don’t tell my wife I said that!).

And then there are the hobbies: training for triathlon or marathon–the training is the hobby, the races are merely validation of the hobby–and photography. Fortunately, though I may overvalue my hobbies, they teach me things about myself, and about life in general.

One of the things I’ve learned from photography is simplicity. Oftentimes the best photos are the ones that have been stripped down to the most basic composition. This is because it removes distractions from your image. Take the picture above the title, for instance. When I saw this lone oak leaf just laying in the snow, it captured my attention. It seemed to have settled down and made this patch of snow its home. This leaf was on a trail, and there were tracks in the snow from both people and animals. There were sticks and other leaves not far from this leaf. If I had gone wider in my framing, those other things would have been distracting from the view that caught my eye. Cutting out distractions is how we learn to place the appropriate value on the activities in our lives.

When I speak of simplifying our lives, I am not necessarily suggesting that we give up things that we enjoy, but rather that we mindfully consider all of the activities in our lives. Only then can we decide which activities we value most, and which activities are merely distractions that pull us away from those things which are important to us.

This process isn’t always painless. On occasion we will find that we really enjoy an activity that is just another distraction. But an honest assessment will always point us in the right direction. Then comes the follow through. I have never met anyone who has regretted simplifying their life. Simplifying gives us more time to devote to the things that are truly important.

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