Keeping it Simple

Today was one of those days you spend running around, trying to do all the things that need to get done, and they’re all such small things, but they need to get done or there will be trouble and inconvenience to follow. For example, while I was in New York, one of the nose pieces on my glasses fell off: you know, those small pieces of plastic that keep the glasses on your nose. Of course, you can’t wear the glasses without them. So an important errand today was running to my optometrist’s and having the nose piece fixed. Such a small thing, and yet so necessary.

And I had to buy milk, because while I was gone the milk had gone sour, which means that I can’t make myself oatmeal for breakfast. And while I was out, I bought groceries just in general, including new flowers, because my flowers had mostly died. I’m not sure why, but in a fit of extravagance, I bought two bouquets, so I had plenty of flowers left over. Here is the main arrangement, on the table:

Flowers 1

And here is the arrangement in the bathroom:

Flowers 2

There are so many of those fiddly little things in our lives: glasses nose pieces, and cell phone batteries, and keys. Heels on shoes. They need to be fixed, or copied, or recharged, or glued on. Oh yes, and on my way home I had to pick up a new toaster, because I had spilled water on the counter and my toaster no longer worked. So I stopped in the hardware store and bought a new one.

I mention all this because life is full of such things, such errands. And if you want to live an interesting life, an artistic life, you have to minimize them. You can’t always be concerned with the fiddly things. I try to do that, conscientiously: to simplify. To have as few bills to pay as possible, to arrange my life so that I’m not endlessly taking care of things. So that the fundamental activities of life are simple. That’s partly why I’m so glad that I don’t have a car, which takes endless care. Last week, I packed my bag, got on the subway in Boston, got on a bus to New York, got on a subway in New York, and there I was: spending almost a week in New York, going to see and do fabulous things. This summer, although I’m not sure about this yet, I may well be doing the same thing, except in Europe. You would be astonished at how easy it is for me to pack, get on the subway, get on an airplane, get on the subway, and be in an apartment in Budapest. Or a house in London. Or anywhere.

That’s not to say that my life isn’t very full. Right now, it’s too full. I had a long meeting with a friend of mine in New York who is also in the publishing industry, and I told him that what I really needed right now were an agent, an accountant, and an assistant. And honestly, if I keep doing the sort of work I’m doing, steadily, those things will be necessary in the next year. But at least they’re part of my work. I try to simplify my life so that my work can be as complicated as it is.

And so that I can live fully, think and feel deeply. Create the complicated work I want to. That’s where I want the complication to be: on the page, in the story. So in life, I’m trying to keep it simple. Not that it always works, of course. But I do try. (My glasses are fixed, I have milk in the refrigerator, my toaster can even toast hot dog buns. And I have new flowers in my apartment. That means I’m good to go . . .)

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One thought on “Keeping it Simple

  1. If you get an assistant then s/he can do all those errands and you won’t have to! I’ve been one and I know. ;)

    I did a few errands today myself and drove around lost for awhile. (I’ve just moved.) So that’s something you don’t do when you’ve not a car either: drive about lost!

    Happy solstice to you!

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