i’m digging out my desk after a busy weekend of work (40 hours just on friday-sunday). when i get rushed, papers and files just pile up on my desk until i can catch my breath and sort them out. that’s what i’m doing today.

i just cleared 2 stacks of papers from my desk and found an important note scratched on a sheet of paper. it’s a letter of sorts. it was such an important letter that i put it on my desk right in front of my computer so that i would be reminded all day long. but alas, it got pushed aside and buried under piles and piles of papers. and when it “became out of sight,” it became “out of mind” as well.

i found it this morning and was reminded of its importance, weight, and promise. oh, how i wish it had not been crowded out by the accumulation of “stuff.”

too often this metaphor defines me – not just in pieces of paper, but in life’s joy and value. this “find” has become my encouragment and challenge for the day – don’t let “stuff” push aside the important things in your life.

now that my desk has been sorted and cleared, this note and its message has again returned to prominence in my life and attitude. thank god.

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as a part of my job, i frequently take adults and students to third-world environments.  and i have taken enough trips over the years i can predict what the emotional response is going to be in the life of somebody who has never seen life outside of the established, consumer-driven, american culture where i live.

they will have three emotions at some point during the trip:

  1. they will marvel that people with so little can be so joyful.
  2. they will long to enjoy life as much as the people they meet.
  3. they will say that they are blessed to live in america and own so many possessions.

the reflective ones will connect the dots and realize the foolishness of their third statement as soon as they say it out loud.  others will repeat the same three emotions over and over again.

the truth is that “possessions” and “joy” are not equal.  this can be seen in the statistics (america ranks #1 in rate of depression) and this can be seen in the people we meet in the third-world countries (which leads to the emotion #1 and #2).

the unfortunate truth is that for so long americans have equated possessions with joy in life that even when the evidence is right in front of their face, we are blind to recognize it.  minimalism begins to conteract that belief structure.  we begin to live with less and find that joy does not leave our lives. 

it may even feed it.