Monday, March 30, 2009


Well this weekend saw Elizabeth, Eleanor and I heading back to Kerikeri on Sunday for another of our Testimonies study days and to discuss various Quaker business matters arising at a MM (regional) and YM (national) level.

This time the testimony we looked at was simplicity - one I've thought about much over the years and this became apparent when doing one of the exercises. We had to write down on small pieces of paper 10 objects that were important to us, 8 tasks/responisbilities or activities we did and 6 roles we held. Well if that wasn't a challenge enough for us we then had to imagine we'd been given a wonderful opportunity to dramatically change our lives (examples given included a dream job overseas, retirement to a Quaker community, a new relationship etc)... having decided what that was we then had to get rid of half our pieces of paper!

Well, reading on in the handbook it became apparent that they really expected you to be able to get rid of the objects more easily than the tasks/roles etc. They obviously didn't expect someone who had already taken up that dream job overseas to attempt it! My list of objects I wasn't about to give up were the things that I knew already I couldn't give up - my taonga (pendant) from the FWCC Triennial in Auckland 2004, my Granny's wedding ring, my passport and work permit (which I ammended to say 'visa to stay here' having given up my job amidst the cull!) and then photos (and a camera). The rest of my objects were all family 'heirlooms' and childhood memorabilia - I know from the last few years I can live without them but I'd rather they stayed in the family.

Life has proved to me more than once that providence will provide - sure it's handy to have your own this that and the next thing but when push comes to shove it's amazing what you can live without, beg, borrow or recycle without too much ado. I've learned to live without much of the cumber I had accumulated over the years and usually without regret - altho' it was frustrating this morning to discover that the black pair of jeans I though were still in the bottom of the drawer had gone some time back! Oh well, I got away with wearing blue ones for work (it's too cold in the mornings for shorts now).

I was quite happy at the idea of giving up work in the exercise (I've been keen on retirement since before I even started work! It always struck me as akin to the description of being a widow I recently came across in one of the Anne of Green Gables book - you get your freedom without the stigma/public pressure - in that case of being an old maid and to marry, in this of being unemployed and to get a job!) but I realised that I couldn't give up my Quaker involvement (on committees etc) - I've tried that before and whilst it was nice to have a break at first I didn't feel like 'me'...

Simplifying my life is something that I've done both drastically and in small steps over the years. One of the things we read on Sunday stated it's more about living life 'appropriately' than having a spartan existance and I like that definition. With a change in life style this year (having a more conventional working week) and gradually rejoining the world of those with disposable income Sundays session was a timely reminder for me to reassess what is appropriate to where I am in life right now in terms of how I allocate my time, energy and money.

No comments: