04/06/2010

Let's have a bit less of that simplicity nonsense, shall we?

I've been reading a lot of self-improvement, life-help kind of things lately. Don't ask why. They just crop up. Well, actually, there's one blog I really like that talks about that, and I've been clicking on a few links it gave, and before you know it, my google reader is full of Zen and stuff.

Now I'm all for Zen and stuff. Kinda. I like decluttering. But I also like clutter. No contradiction here, or conflict. Some particular clutters I count as my friends, some just bother me. Right now, one clutter that's bothering me is the number of posts I'm reading on simplicity.



One I read recently said that simplicity is good because it helps us make good decisions. A woman had cut down her life activities to just two: mothering and blogging about mothering. She'd dropped competitive running and an online business. She said it helped her focus and not procastinate. She said it helped her be a better mother. She said she would teach her kids about simplicity. Also, there was a family mission statement included somewhere, something you can refer to when you have to make a decision.

When I picture to myself the kind of family these posts hold out as a model, they're always dressed in white. Usually the mother and the children are blond. The father sometimes has darker hair. But he's very clearly caucasian. Possibly Canadian. Also, they're tall, and slim, and fit. The parents smile, the children laugh. They're outside. There's a ball, some water. And that's it.

I can't wear white. Nor can my husband and children. And it's not because it doesn't suit our skin tones. No idea what does or doesn't. We just get it stained. Always, within the first few minutes. Also, although we're blondish, our hair doesn't stay still. It's not smooth or bouncy. More like jungle hair (and yet not curly). Also, we don't actually spend time just bouncing a ball outside and looking photogenic. We go to work and school, we shop, go to the gym (yay!), to piano lessons, special ed classes (all the time), to the newly re-opened bar, to friends' houses, holidays, etc. Our lives aren't simple. They're busy. Not too busy, but busy enough. And we like it that way.

Let's be honest, does any body really want to be like the people in the family I just described? When you're tired of being you, wish you were somebody else, or when you're daydreaming about what you might become, how you might change your life, do you ever picture yourself like this? For more than 30 seconds? I certainly don't, so I'm questioning my late fascination with all these zenish posts.

Procastination, lack of focus, both these things are good. Do you remember when you fell in love? Were you busy doing what you were supposed to do, were you focussing on something? How about last time you had a laugh, a great big laugh with a friend, or family? We procrastinate because we have other things we fancy doing and they're more fun. Well, yes. To put it bluntly, no 'mission' is so great that there's never going to be anything else that right now seems like it would be more fun. And that's good, because I don't reckon a family in white is likely to come up with a mission statement that will enable its members to make the right decision everytime. Making the right decision is, more often than not, a question of letting go, of being relaxed enough in the midst of endless complications that you can get it just right. A bit like Luke, removing the visor and going with the force in the tunnel to the Death Star. Except without the voice of Obiwan in the background saying 'Go with the force, Luke' (which would be pretty cool). Except also, without realising that's what you're doing.

Because us, human beings, are not simple beings. We can no more live a simple life than we can dress in white all the time. We thrive in complexity. Our biggest pleasures, our richest moments come from skiving, procrastinating, switching off focus. But you can only really do that if you've got stuff to hide from and put off. If you've only got one role in life, and one that's clearly defined at that, why would you want to put it off? And if you did, how would that make you feel about yourself? If I can't be arsed to work on my book, I can always tell myself it's because I spent so much time preparing my teaching, or because I'm stressed out by Max's special needs education, or whatever. I get a pat on the back. From myself and everyone else. As long as I keep going mostly, it just doesn't matter if I miss a couple of steps along the way. As long as I have fun.

And you know what? I procrastinate a lot (how else do you think I'd find time to blog about zombies?). But in the end, most things still get done. And if they don't, then I probably didn't want to do them in the first place.

6 comments:

@jencull (jen) said...

Lol at the family in white, we are so NOT that family, not least because quite a few of us have mad red curly hair and none of us can keep white clean. We could probably do the photogenic bit alright :D

I procrastinate when I really don't want to do something, mostly housework because I could be blogging or reading blogs or tickling my children or something else enjoyable. I agree, procrastination is good :D

Jen

Liz said...

The Bistro re-opened? Gah, there was no need for me to leave!

That is so true about not doing what you are supposed to be doing whilst falling in love etc.. I met Andrew on a language course in St. Petersburg. I still don't speak any Russian.

Michelle said...

I could live with taking a holiday and being the family in white just for a week, to have a nice rest and then I would go back to beng me. I am not a human being, I am a human doing! lol Mich x

Sandrine said...

@Jen: Curly red hair with white sounds lovely. I wonder if the people who pose for those photos can actually wear white in real life? I think procrastination is a very different thing when you've got things in your life you enjoy, like children to tickle, than when you're lonely and bored and just spend to much time reading things online. But even then that's a symptom that something's wrong, right? And a symptom has to be looked at, not tricked away.

Sandrine said...

@Liz. Yes, you can come back now! The new bistro is ok, but we're working on a list of things they need to change, starting with the no sitting at the bar.

Sandrine said...

@Michelle. Yes, you could do that for a week, or you could have a week being a single woman in white, with no children in white or otherwise to run after, and gorgeous men bringing you coktails. Which would you like me to arrange (with my magic wand...)

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