“It is uncanny how social reality can deaden and numb us so that the mystical wonder of our lives goes totally unnoticed.”
– John O’ Donahue
There was a time, a few months ago (while my novel was still in someone else’s hands and I was still awaiting feedback) when I felt overwhelmed.
My senses felt so dizzy and exhausted from so many bright colors and flashy things coming at me from everywhere: from my laptop, from my TV screen, from my cellphone, from billboards on the freeways I drove on, and from the signs being waved at me from street corners I would pass by.
So much of our lives these days is saturated with bright, shiny, loud, in-your-face, 3D, High-Definition, gourmet, designer, supermodel, mobile, all-in-one, instant… stuff.
It got to the point where I literally had to shut it all down as much as I could in order to keep my sanity.
During those months of plainness, I spent a lot of time at the park meditating, watching black and white silent movies at home… or just tuning into all the silence around me.
It was so refreshing not to be bombarded with flashy signals coming at me from all over the place.
It was so liberating.
I found so much freedom in plainness.
Can Plainness Grant You The Freedom You’ve Been Looking For?
I wonder if we shackle ourselves when we ask ourselves to do so many things all at once.
I wonder if we couldn’t be freer if we just asked ourselves to do one thing only: the thing that we are doing right now?
I wonder if we aren’t just fashioning our own prison when we demand that we be so many different people all at once.
I wonder if we couldn’t be more free if we just asked ourselves to be just one person: the person we are right now?
What if every meal we ate didn’t have to be exceptionally delicious?
Maybe we would be satisfied more often… and disappointed less often.
What if every outfit we owned didn’t have to make us look like a supermodel with a banging body every day of our lives?
Maybe we would feel secure more often… and insecure less often.
What if every movie we watched didn’t have to blow something up in our faces every ten seconds–just to keep us entertained?
Maybe we would be pleasantly surprised by movies more often… and bored by normal life less often.
In this age of in-your-face, gourmet-style, supermodel-level flashiness, I sense that we all hunger deeply—voraciously—for plainness.
No, we don’t want designer-relaxed-fit-bootcut-cargo-skinny-acid-wash-pre-torn jeans. We just want some jeans, for god sakes.
No, we don’t want gourmet-signature-culinary-celebrity-chef-inspired-sauteed-with-mushooms-and-rare-ostrich-booger-sauce-from-the-Yucatan paninis. We just want a sandwich, for god sakes.
No, we don’t want mobile-to-mobile-anytime-minutes-unlimited-texting-4G-network-anytime-anywhere-full-bars-GPS-Siri-theres-an-app-for-that-instragram-your-butt-to-your-boyfriend-next-generation Smartphone devices. We just want to buy a phone, for god sakes.
Nothing flashy. Just plain… because all this stuff, instead of setting us free, is starting to make us feel trapped.
Leading The Quiet, Plainness Revolution That is Boiling In Our Hearts
There was a time when we all wanted more, but now that we’ve been given more, we are now starting to hunger for more of less.
We hunger for plainness.
I can feel it.
And for a moment there, I was the daring one.
I left the world of flashy, High-Definition, over-abundant, gourmet, supermodel, designer-style-living and existed, for a brief moment, in a world of plainness.
And there I was free. Free.
It was then, for a while, that mediocrity became a delicacy. Silence inspired me to dance more than ear-pounding Hip Hop club music ever did. The vagueness of passing clouds in the sky was so much clearer to me than High-Definition television. The bland, muted colors of old black and white films suddenly bled more potently than the neon colors of the flashiest of modern blockbusters. The flatness of the earth beneath my feet (as I meditated in the park) was far closer to me, and far more thrilling, than 3D-Blue-Ray-DVDs-played-on-a-Nintendo-Wii-console.
It was then, when I was living in plainness, that the world truly felt as if it was at my fingertips… and I wasn’t even holding my mobile phone.
Today’s Courage Exercise
Live in plainness for a day. (If you are daring one, try it for a week.) Focus on silence instead of the noise. Watch black and white films instead of color. Don’t seek the flashy, designer, gourmet treats of the world: shut that all out and, instead, seek out everything that is plain and modest. See if you don’t feel liberated by the end of the day.
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