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Over the years, I’ve read commentary from people trying to simplify their lives. Sometimes they sell large homes and replace them with smaller ones. Sometimes they throw out favorite clothes and appliances and trade in their cars and buy more efficient, modern, and attractive ones. I tend to be the kind of person who holds on to things as long as they still fit or keep working. I have exercise clothes that I’ve had for over 20 years and a leather jacket that I never wear, especially in Florida, but I can’t bear to part with it.
But in the past year, I’ve noticed that I’m making choices that have little to do with practicality in the usual terms, or with efficiency or modernity. I’ve felt the need to shed certain attitudes, let go of some relationships, or eliminate practices that take up my time, my energy, and even my spirit. I’ve tried to be discerning as I let things go, because I might find myself in a pattern of removing not only activities but relationships that have become trying, but there is reason to maintain them. I’ve also realized that certain practices strengthen my life, and I want to pursue and deepen them. So, I thought I’d share what I’ve been up to …
First, anyone on this site can be assured that I’m not talking about distancing myself from you! Every person with whom I’ve interacted on this site, even if we strongly disagree with each other, is important to me. I may not agree with you, but I will always try to learn from you (and sometimes that’s not easy!). I also know that we may not agree, but we very likely share mostly the same values, and that factor is important to me in my relationships.
There is one relationship that I decided to end, and that is the one with my Torah study partner in Israel. No, I’m not talking about my work with @iwe! But I finally acknowledged that over time, my style of teaching/learning was very different from hers, and although we discussed my frustrations, I saw no way for us to make adjustments. So, after several months of agonizing over the decision, I asked that we part ways. It was a painful decision to make.
As some of you know, I had to make a challenging decision about my volunteer work with hospice. Fortunately, we found a very special way for me to serve them without direct, in-person contact: I make bereavement calls to survivors. It is a blessed match for me, and I am learning so much every time I make a call, even when I leave a voicemail; that may be my only contact with the person, so I want to make my voice and words comforting for him or her.
I’ve also made the decision to not read emails except from my closest friends. I’ve lost interest in the ones that insult President Joe Biden and his administration; I don’t find them amusing, nor do I get any satisfaction out of gloating over their mismanagement. At this point, they don’t have anything new to teach me, except for the devastating impact of leftism. I think I’ve pretty much got that lesson down pat. I even asked one person, as graciously as I could, to remove my name from her list. I think she was a bit put out with me, but I never asked to be added in the first place.
How have I challenged myself in my studies? My work with @iwe and his sons is always a delight and a profound learning experience. I’ve also decided to read the commentary of Nachmanides (Ramban) along with the weekly Torah portion and Sir Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. It will be difficult at times, but it’s also fascinating.
I also started a group last year that I’ve called Teshuvah (returning is one meaning of teshuvah) where a small group of us have met monthly on Zoom; I asked participants to decide what they wanted to learn, and they chose the Jewish holidays. I did the preparation, and we’d have discussions about it, and we all loved it. We’ll be choosing a topic or topics for 2022, too, that we can explore to expand our understanding of Judaism.
Along with my bereavement calls for hospice, I will also be assisting in presentations for seniors who have not developed advanced directives. This step in our lives is so important that I’m very glad to be helping others learn about it.
Are these the only things I’m going to do? Well, I will walk three days per week and exercise in the gym three days per week. I will pray and meditate. I will enjoy my favorite cereal at breakfast and a glass of wine with dinner. I will continue to write for Ricochet; I’ve discovered recently that topics that I think will be helpful to others are showing up for me. I also find the act of writing deeply satisfying, as well as the conversations we have, and I’m writing with more ease.
And finally, I have no reason to rush through life or achieve great things or take on overwhelming tasks. I don’t think that is what life is asking of me; I just need to be prepared for change, to shift my perspective and notice how life is unfolding. I just want to learn and to serve.
It doesn’t get much better than that.
What steps have you taken to simplify your life?Published in