January is always a time of reflection and re-evaluation. It is also a time when many (myself included) try to purge the extraneous—whether it’s the clothes in your closet, extra stuff in your home, or getting rid of bad habits. January is a time to basically edit your life.
Taped to my computer I have the last two paragraphs from a David Brooks op-ed, The Evolution of Simplicity, that ran last year in the Times. In it he discusses the simplicity movement (Marie Kondo, the desire to unplug etc.) which feels relative for this time of year. While he takes the movement to task (a bit), he also relates those in history who have sought to do the same, and how, by editing your life, you can focus on what truly matters to you. This year I plan to go room to room in the house, editing out the un-meaningful, but I also plan to apply this idea to other areas in my life. Below are the last couple paragraphs of Brook’s piece. Perhaps they will inspire you to do the same.
“There’s clearly some process of discovery here. Early in life you choose your identity by getting things. But later in an affluent life you discover or update your identity by throwing away what is no longer useful, true and beautiful. One simplicity expert advised people to take all their books off their shelves and throw them on the floor. Only put back the books that you truly value.
That’s an exercise in identity discovery, an exercise in realizing and then prioritizing your current tastes and beliefs. People who do that may instinctively be seeking higher forms of pruning: being impeccable with your words, parsimonious but strong with your commitments, disciplined about your time, selective about your friendships, moving generally from fragmentation toward unity of purpose. There’s an enviable emotional tranquillity at the end of that road.
In a world of rampant materialism and manifold opportunities, many people these days are apparently learning who they are by choosing what they can do without.”
photo courtesy French Vogue