What I Shed Today

lightening up a little at a time

+ a prayer in the middle years of opportunity

A friend shared this with me a few years ago. Now it’s time to speak to me has come. (I find it variously attributed, but I’m fairly sure it appears in Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals.)

Lord, help me now to unclutter my life,
to organize myself in the direction of simplicity.
Lord, teach me to listen to my heart;
teach me to welcome change, instead of fearing it.
Lord, I give You these stirrings inside me,
I give You my discontent,
I give You my restlessness,
I give You my doubt,
I give You my despair,
I give You all the longings I hold inside.
Help me to listen to these signs of change, of growth;
to listen seriously and follow where they lead
through the breathtaking empty space of an open door.

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think glocally, act glocally

Said the wizard Gandalf to Denethor, Steward of Minas Tirith:

“Well, my lord Steward, it is your task to keep some kingdom still against that event, which few now look to see. In that task you shall have all the aid that you are pleased to ask for. But I will say this: the rule of no realm is mine, neither of Gondor nor any other, great or small. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task, though Gondor should perish, if anything passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I also am a steward. Did you not know?”

―J. R. R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

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there’s a word for that

“… [A]nything that Hobbits had no immediate use for, but were unwilling to throw away, they called a malthom. Their dwellings were apt to become rather crowded with malthoms, and many of the presents that passed from hand to hand were of that sort.”

—J. R. R. Tolkein, The Fellowship of the Ring

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a word from the prophet Tom Petty

I’m so tired of being tired
Sure as night will follow day
Most things I worry about
Never happen anyway

—Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “Crawling Back To You”

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Thoreau’s seed thought

Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed — a, to me, equally mysterious origin for it. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders. I shall even believe that the millennium is at hand, and that the reign of justice is about to commence, when the Patent Office, or Government, begins to distribute, and the people to plant the seeds of these things.

—Henry David Thoreau, “The Succession of Forest Trees”


simple gifts

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

—Joseph Brackett, “Simple Gifts”

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the mad farmer’s rule

Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.

—Wendell Berry, “Prayers and Sayings of the Mad Farmer,” from Farming: A Hand Book

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less than more

I’ve been looking for it all around
I’ve been searching even underground
I’ve been wondering why I never found
All the things I thought I needed to survive

This is what I’m looking for
It’s a little less than more
Than I usually adore
I’m matching it for sure
All the things I was searching for
It won’t matter anymore
It’s a little less than more
It’s what I’m waiting for

—Floria Ambra, from the Intuition Recordings trance song “Less Than More” by Airbase featuring Floria Ambra


Whitehead’s caution

… [T]he view of Nature which I have maintained in these lectures is not a simple one. Nature appears as a complex system whose factors are dimly discerned by us. But, as I ask you, Is not this the very truth? Should we not distrust the jaunty assurance with which every age prides itself that it at last has hit upon the ultimate concepts in which all that happens can be formulated? The aim of science is to seek the simplest explanations of complex facts. We are apt to fall into the error of thinking that the facts are simple because simplicity is the goal of our quest. The guiding motto in the life of every natural philosopher should be, Seek simplicity and distrust it.

—Alfred North Whitehead, The Concept of Nature

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shed my skin

I’ve kicked the habit (kicked the habit, kicked the habit)
Shed my skin (shed my skin)
This is the new stuff (this is the new stuff)
I go dancing in (we go dancing in)

—Peter Gabriel, “Sledgehammer,” So

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