Eliminating the Unnecessary

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” – Hans Hofmann



I’ve always been a pen hoarder. Ever since I could grip a crayon, I was the girl with the crammed pencil case. Overflowing with Sharpies and highlighters and my personal favorite, the colored Jelly Roll pens with the silver sheen which must be guarded at all cost. My mom could be struggling to find a single writing utensil in the entire home, but I made sure to always be fully stocked. Just in case one highlighter ran dry, you know you really should have six others for backup.

I’d like to think I’ve since grown up and grown out of those ways.

But it only takes me one look at my days and my to-do lists and my closet to see…excess.

So much excess in an already noisy world.

I’m a firm believer that things aren’t bad in and of themselves. It’s what we make of them, the value we place on them, the lengths we’ll go to accrue them and…what we forfeit in the process.

See, we’re always playing the game of elimination whether we know it or not.

Because when we fill our lives with the unnecessary it nudges into nothingness what was formerly at the forefront.

And excess comes in all shapes and sizes. Too many gadgets. Too much house. A crammed closet or a schedule of commitments that doesn’t even fit the calendar.

I’ve realized my multitasking actually robs me of the moments. Attention divided is no attention at all. And in an effort to attend to everything we miss out on the main thing. In buying more materials we never appreciate those we already have. In the name of doing everything, it’s possible to really do nothing.

A life brimming with the superfluous often leads to a soul constantly searching for more. I know for myself that the more things I accrue the more attention and intention I lose. Focus becomes foggy as we crowd our lives with the unnecessary.

So it’s time to start playing the elimination game with intent. It’s not the stuff we have, rather the stuff we appreciate. It’s not the number of things we do, but the meaning in which they are done. What if, instead of always striving for more, we flipped the script and looked for less.

Don’t live an empty life that’s so filled up with things. The winner isn’t the one who does the most, has the most or commits to the most. Winning is living a life of focus. Winning is living a life of purpose.

And the first step to victory might be one of elimination. Might as well give it a shot. The truth is, we’re all already playing the game anyways.

Comfort Zones & Loving Different People

I placed one last glass bowl on top of the metal pot which was on top of the folding chair which was situated ever so tactfully just inches from the main door. I carefully pulled my hand away, ready to catch any falling kitchen debris should my tower of cookware collapse. After a few seconds of waiting, I deemed the leaning tower of pots and pans stable enough to stand while unsteady enough to fall to the floor in an explosive crash should the apartment door be opened.
Satisfied, I moved to the second and final entry door to the apartment. More pots, more pans. One more teetering tower.
Friday night at 10 p.m. and my husband was on a four day road trip to start his season. I was just prepping for the night ahead. There would be about fifteen more minutes of rituals involving doors and windows and patio checks. I’ll spare the details, but by now you’re arriving at the solid conclusion that I don’t like staying in the apartment alone. Call me crazy. I’ll call me proactive.
And maybe a bit crazy.
But then again, aren’t we all a little guilty?
We build barricades to block out the uncomfortable. And fear shrinks our world so small to where we eventually end up living in the confines of our own self. Consumed with self and wary of what lies beyond.
Living overseas, there are days when I just don’t want to make the effort. I’d rather dive into a computer screen that offers a familiar language with familiar photos and pass the minutes without a misunderstanding, an awkward interaction, or an uncomfortable exchange. I’d rather get lost in technology than lost on the street. Yes, there are unfortunately days when I communicate more with pixels and my Pinterest than with the people around me.
And ironically enough, when the world is shut out for fear, it only leaves a more gaping hole for uneasiness to increase.
Headlines might lead us to believe otherwise, but choose a walk in the real world over time with the television and you might find people to be more delightful than media depicts. I certainly have.
So as I sat behind my tupperware tower I realized I should be more scared of a self-absorbed life than a stranger. The first step out of my comfort zone might just be the one that takes me out of my apartment.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned overseas, it’s that different isn’t bad. I can learn from different. I can live among different. I can even love different. Rather, I must love different if I want to live free.