Thursday, June 25, 2009


The hard part is not whether we can make do with less for surely we can. The difficulty is to develop a principled basis for living which helps us find the balance between not enough and too much. How do we find the balance? These are suggestions, not of answers but of approach. Some may seem trivial, obvious or you may not agree with them. Humor me.

It is simple. Do not strive to render complex all that can be made complex. Let go. Let it be as simple as it can be. There is only so much which can be done and only some of that is necessary or helpful. Do the simple part. Do not become absorbed in the rest or your thoughts about the rest.

Work to improve but not for more things. Be satisfied with what you have. When you want a thing ask why. Don’t seek it until you understand the practical and useful answer to that question.

Listen to others and try to understand what they are saying and why. Talk to others about what they are saying.

Help others, but this rarely means money. Understand their actual needs and actually help them. This does not mean lip service but actual help through work.

Appreciate differences in perspective. There is no single correct point of view. Every person is at a different place in life and has different views and goals. If there were a single correct point of view it would almost certainly not be yours or mine. Even my view changes over time.

Laugh a little. Most of it, especially the part involving actions between people is partly humorous. This is not critical laughter but the laughter which reflects the pleasure of observation and understanding. It is the smile of an amused infant.

Conserve your personal resources, physical, emotional, financial and others. Not from cheapness but so these resources can be applied to accomplish something or assist someone. Much of what we have and do is unnecessary. Eliminate this. Consume only what you need. Look at the frugal and effective use of resources in simple cultures. Use the whole buffalo. Catch only the fish you can eat. Build a small fire and sit close. My forebearers lived frugally. Someday my descendants will also. There is no reason I should be an exception.

Never lie. This is impossible but must be the standard we aspire to. We will be ambiguous or unclear even with the best intentions, but an outright falsehood is a direct and unequivocal message to the hearer. It says “I cannot be trusted.” After a few such experiences even the most loyal will suspend belief and trust. Communication is strained and everything is double checked. Confidences are not shared because they may not be treated appropriately. This is a waste of resources. Honesty is not only the best policy, it is the only acceptable policy.

The only value based measures of time are two. The day and the lifetime. The rest, years, months, hours, minutes, seconds are counting creations, as a bookkeeper counts beans. Time counting was invented by priests to compute the time to pray. The invented measures are mainly useful to compare one thing with another which is very much like the first. Is it morning? Then it’s time to wake up and do something. Is it evening? Then it’s time to rest. What did you do today? What will you do tomorrow? The individual hours don’t matter except to the bookkeepers. When you do anything in a way which creates or has value you are wisely spending your day and your lifetime. This is why excellence, helping others, teaching, solving problems and watching a sunset all have value. An hour of hard work is often a burden. A day well spent is a joy. Live joyously each day. You will have enough.

Keep working at it. Living lightly and with grace is a process not a rule. Keep in mind the Gross National Product includes expenditures on atomic bombs, rebuilding burned out cities, prisons and police, but does not include the value of a spring morning or an oriole’s song or a starry night.

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