Sunday, April 9, 2017

real life simplicity

Disclaimer: this post is written by a sleep deprived medical resident working the night shift and is likely to contain gross errors of grammar, spelling, and logic, not to mention unpardonable sins of style.

Simplicity is cool these days. Peruse pinterest (or look over your wife's shoulder while she peruses hers), or observe the preachings/postings of minimalists on social media or just think of your coolest possible friends who (of course) have embraced simplicity and minimalism at least in part.

Then there is our home, where Christy and I are busily doing what bunnies do best: we have Ansel speeding towards his 2nd birthday in October and his younger sibling slated for arrival the month before. Meanwhile I am working my way through Internal Medicine Residency at Dartmouth, Christy is being a super mom, and we are both working on remodeling our house and yard. I need to pain the trim, spackle/pain the ceiling, fix the fence, paint the fence, order more fill and topsoil for the yard, put windows in the basement, insulate the basement...the list really does go on and on. We also try to be involved in our local church, teaching Bible study or giving a sermon here and there. Oh yeah, and we are also the church-school treasurers (Christy does most of the work to be honest).


What does our model of simplicity home look like? I should really take some pictures  But just imagine our table at breakfast time. Ansel is grinning gleefully as food traverses between his plate and his mouth, or just as often, every imaginable and unimaginable remote corner of the table and surrounding floor. The living room, which had been "reasonably" clean prior to his pre-breakfast cyclone of activity is now a minefield of blocks, books, daddy's tools, mommy's credit cards, a pot lid, an open bottle of lotion, a random piece of string from who knows where, and some very important bolts for fixing the picnic table, now scattered across the room.

We love it all. Our lives are enriched by the fullness of our days, the endlessly varied topography of our living-room floor, and the shrieks of laughter and love from our precious little boy.

Where is the simplicity in such a life? It's a good question. In one sense, we feel an acute need for much more simplicity both in our time and space. Yet there are moments when I feel certain we are getting things right--when we pile into our aging Toyota Camry to go cross-country skiing together instead of cleaning the house, when we stay up talking in bed after Ansel has finally gone to sleep, when we make maple candy on the last snow of the season.

I guess my point is just that simplicity is not a Zen garden, a gorgeous tiny-house, or a neatly folded and ruthlessly minimized wardrobe. Simplicity is a means to an end, not an end in itself. No doubt, we try to get rid of stuff on a pretty regular basis that doesn't "spark joy", we actually do fold our laundry in the approved neat-and-oh-so-organized recommended fashion, we limit the number of toys Ansel has to a few quality ones, and so on. We also try hard to limit our time commitments--I stepped down as a local elder at church, for instance, so that Christy and I could work on the school board together rather than me going to a church board and her to a school board on separate days.

For us, simplicity in real life is aiding us in our ability to prioritize what we value most. We have some room for improvement but we are also enjoying the stage we are at and trying not to get so caught up in the idea of simplicity that we lose sight of what really matters.


  1. Very profound... So many get caught up with minimalism that they live very complex lives.

    1. What a true statement, Shama. We're trying not to get caught in that web! For us, simplicity is much more about focusing on what we value most (God, Family, Nature, etc) and limiting the time and energy spent on everything else.

  2. Enjoyed this post, and visions of a sweet little family enjoying each other. I agree, Shama- sometimes minimalism becomes a complexity in itself! Thanks for the reminder to refocus on the important things.

  3. Such a loving, well written blog. I so look forward to your family growing together in love with each other and our loving Lord. Peggy Holloway

  4. Simplicity is often nothing more than a realization that more will not buy happiness, and that less was actually what provided happiness. You think of third world residents who think first world residents are happier because they have and can have more, yet are completely burried in their belongings and can't see the sunshine anymore. Sadly, it often takes loosing your happiness for accumulation of goods to realize that "less is more". You can have and be happy, if you realize that it's not these things that make you happy.
    I love that you decided to step down from a position that you cared a lot to step
    up another that provided more couple time. How wise !