The Simple Life – Focusing on What’s Truly Important

Years ago, I went to an outside flea market and an old framed print caught my attention.  It was on a table, amongst many other better items, and not even showing much.  The price was $5.00.  I pondered for a few minutes and decided not to buy it, a few seconds later, after I started walking, I turned back and bought it.  I have it hanging on the second floor wall and as I go up and down the stairs I glance at it.

The old picture frame is in very shabby condition, with scratches in the wood, and the paper that used to cover the back (like in the old way of framing) is gone.  It has an old and rusty twisted wire attached with some screws in the back, and the poor thing looks like it has seen better days long time ago.  However, the print on the inside is covered by the intact and in great shape heavy glass and is in very good condition.

The print is called “When Daddy’s Ship Comes Home” by Bernard Pothast.  It shows a very poor family admiring a toy that the Dad brought home from one of his trips.  What captivates me about this picture is the few items that the home has, only the most essential things, and very few, limited to the table and chairs where they are sitting and a spoon rack with 3 spoons on it.  Now, there seems to be four people in this family, the mother, two kids, and the Father, who obviously is mostly at sea.  But things in this house come in three.  The well behaved kids, mesmerized by the object that the Dad is showing them also captures my attention, as so is the attention that this family is giving to the bread winner of the home.  They have so little, they are so poor, but yet they manage to focus on what it is important at the moment – Dad is home.
Dad may have decided to bring other type of item, a necessary item, maybe another spoon, or another piece of furniture,or even a big turkey – however, he managed to bring something that the kids would be mesmerized with, and will remember.  He was making the best of his stay with the kids, until his ship sails again.

It is obvious why this picture speaks tons of words by just looking at it, it is so simple, yet says so much.  For me the message is “to live simply and focus on what is truly important.”

Here is a picture of the scene.

Flipping the Switch

Starting to live a simple life has not been easy.  Mostly, because it has been a slow process and one that has been the result of some good and not so good events.  It has been ticking, and finally the pieces are starting to fall in place, slowly, one by one.  It is a process of shedding, not only the material, but of the feelings attached to those material things.  It’s been a time to shed emotions, and of retrospection; a time of discovery, and of realization.  It has also been a time to do just the opposite of what had been expected and go against the current, of letting go.  That has been the spiritual side of it, although the material part has had its own challenges.  

Once you see the material for what it is, it becomes less important, little by little, step by step.  What used to be hard to get rid of, one day becomes easy, the feelings attached are still there, but you realize that the feelings will always be there, and they don’t need the physicality of an object to be brought to memory.  Most of it is crap, from shoppaholic days, or the result of some old empty void being filled at the time.  Once acknowledged, it is free to let go, and so is all the stuff that goes with it.

There are catalysts in our lives that act as switches, to turn us on to achieve our next level as evolving human and spiritual beings.  These catalysts can take the form of persons (even the ones that may hurt you), events, and things.  So however we have arrived to the start of living a simple life – I thank the persons (good and bad), the events, and the things, which have made it possible.  

Once the switch has been flipped, the rest of our life – the simple life – follows.

Flip the Switch