what I do

what I do

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What Oprah and Gandhi have in common

As I am writing this post I can hear the rain coming down and watering the earth and I am reminded that I am very fortunate to have a good roof over my head. I love my house. And I love the things I have put inside it. They give me pleasure. I am in a business of helping people love their homes in the same way that I love mine. And sometimes I struggle with that.

I spent a good part of the day enjoying one of my favorite pastimes ... reading a good book. Currently I am reading Philip Yancey. I love reading Philip Yancey. I love his writing and I appreciate his perspective. He stretches me and challenges me to think deeper. He validates a lot of what I struggle with as well.  This particular book I am reading, "Soul Survivor: How Thirteen Unlikely Mentors Helped My Faith Survive the Church", touches me on so many levels.

Here is an excerpt from what I read today:
     "In the autobiography, Gandhi traces the evolution of his simple lifestyle. He had tried Western ways as a law student in London, outfitting himself in an evening suit, silk top hat, patent leather boots, white gloves, and a silver-tipped walking stick. He remained something of a dandy when he returned to India, and did not begin to change until he went to South Africa. First he ironed his own shirts, much to the ridicule of his law colleagues. Then he practiced cutting his own hair, leaving patches of unevenness that drew even more laughter. While drawing a good salary, he experimented by halving household expenses, then halving them again. At the end of every day he made a meticulous accounting of every penny spent.
     From these experiments, Gandhi found the the process of spending less money and acquiring fewer possessions simplified his life and gave him inner peace."

Yancey continues,
     "Voices in the West today are calling for a return to simplicity. Some Christians uphold the virtues of a simple lifestyle and raise questions about the morality of Western standards in the light of world inequities (though, in fairness, the level of simplicity they recommend more closely resembles what Gandhi started with than what he later attained). I will leave the issue of lifestyle morality to others more confident than I. What I learn from Gandhi is the reason for simplicity, not its level. Gandhi pursued simplicity not out of guilt but rather out of necessity, for the sake of his own spiritual health."

Sitting on my desk beside me right now is the new Oprah magazine. I haven't read it yet; haven't even opened it up. I bought it tonight because my sister said it was all about de-cluttering your life which is something I am passionate about. Written across the cover in large print are these words, "De-Clutter Your Life! Say goodbye to the stuff that's weighing you down." Apparently Oprah had one of her "Aha moments" as the cover relays, "I want to be lean and clean for the future."

And it all makes me think, what are we doing? We accumulate things because we think it will make us happy. We work hard to be able to afford the things we love. And then we work even harder to manage the things we have. Do our 'things' weigh us down? Do they keep us from having inner peace? What do you think?


Carol@6WilsonBlog.com said...

I think if you love your faith, your family and yourself, you'll be happy. All the rest is icing on the cake. If you don't love those things first, no amount of stuff or decorating or whatever will do it for you -- the desire to acquire will get old and empty. Just a thought. Great post, Sherri. Reminders are good for the soul. :)

Kathysue said...

Whoa Sherri, this is a very deep subject, and probably one that will be difficult to comment in short form. I know I have struggle with keeping it all in perspective. Being a Christian and a decorator that works with nothing but material things can sometimes be a conflict. For me it is all in priorities. God,Family,Friends and then comes the stuff. I feel God gave me a gift of design as something to enjoy, sort of the icing on the already wonderful cake of life he has given me. I do agree the quest for more and more will always weigh us down. Keeping God as our focus and using our talents to help others is important.
I am in the process of purging my home and I have to admit, I have waaaay too much stuff. But and I do mean "But" I know it is just STUFF!!! It sounds like you are in some very deep thought this weekend. I hope you find the answers you are looking for,KS

Anonymous said...

Thank you Sherri for visiting my new blog and leaving some encouraging comments. I really appreciate it! I thought my posts were just going out there into cyberspace until you and a handful of others visited!!

On the question of do 'things' weigh us down? I have felt, for myself at times, they have definitely weighed me down. The first moments of 'new and shiny' can wear off pretty quickly. Especially from my perspective as a military wife whose husband is currently in Afghanistan, helping people who have next to nothing in material possessions. When you know there are people in the world who are subjected to things that are not even imaginable, buying a new picture or lamp really doesn't have much longterm satisfaction or 'meaning'. When I look back at my past the loving memories I have are not of 'things' but of people, my children, my amazing husband, my friends and those 'funny' moments in life. I am not a more happy person now that I have a leather sectional sofa than when we were first married and had a family hand me down 1980's sofa that looked like a huge ugly marshmallow!! But I am happy when I cuddle with my kids and husband on that sectional on movie nights. Living in the North American/Western culture and lifestyle - we are always looking to 'level up' (as my 11 and 16 year old boys talk about when playing X box games!). We want to move up in life and that immediately brings to mind accumulating more assets. As women, I think we want to make a beautiful nest for our family which means the nice TV, the nice furniture ect. And who doesn't love a new pair of shoes?? It's a catch 22 and hopefully we can just strive to balance the material things that can weigh us down with experiences and relationships that can provide us with inner peace.

Great post Sherri!

Prizler Photography said...

Wow, look at your responses. Love that you have followers willing to spend time with very thoughtful comments. I on the other hand, have just a few minutes as the piles of &$#*! are packing up the dog and cat and moving them out to make more room.

diane@onlinefabricstore said...

I agree that out stuff can be overwhelming at times. but some "stuff" is all we have left of those who have passed on and other "stuff" reminds us of wonderful days when our kids were babies etc. etc. Stuff for stuff sake is weighing but other stuff is heartwarming and precious to us. What I will say is dangerous is comparing Oprah, a tv celebrity, to someone like Gandhi...remember, these thoughts are not hers, they are a compilation of thoughts from the many people she employs. Be careful not to place her on a pedestal she is sure to topple down from.

Unknown said...

Love the comments everyone ... and I love our freedom to have differences - that is what makes us all so unique and makes life interesting. ;) xo

Deb said...

I think the inner peace comes when you realize that if you really had to give up your material possessions you could- and still be happy. That happened for me during my divorce when I had to give up a beautifully remodeled home and huge backyard for a much smaller condo with a postage stamp for a patio. I get just as much pleasure from 3 or 4 rose bushes as I did from the 50 or so I had in my old life. And if I had to downsize again, I know I could, because my life is not about the car I drive or the house I live in. I think with the bad economy everyone is looking to find ways to trim their expenses and that mindset has leaked into how we live and our surroundings. I think we are asking the right quesitons...do I really need this new item? Can I live with less? When we are more mindful about our purchases rather than mindless spending, it makes what we have more meaningful and we feel more in control of our lives. I also think our world has become so fast and frenzied that when we have a simple clutter free environment it is actually more peaceful and we feel less pressure. I partially agree with diane's comment about Oprah, in that her magazine is following trends, and decluttering is a big one right now, but I tend to believe that Oprah probably did have an aha moment. Sometimes I think it just has a lot to do with age....that the older we get, the more we crave a simpler time and a less stressful life.

barb cabot said...

Love this thought provoking post. Less is more...a saying I heard as a youth and it's always haunting me but I have come to understand it's worth. I'm trying to practice incorporating that into my life.

Angie said...

SUCH a great post. YES, it is a vicious cycle that is very easy to get caught up in and for me? NO where near as easy as it sounds to break free from.