Thursday, October 1, 2009

"Shall we always study to obtain more of these things...

...and not sometimes to be content with less?"

Forgive me my ramblings, dear reader, in these next days. The song, though escaping the inner recesses of the soul, is still searching for the words and the tune that go together. There is, in every attempt to eradicate a problem, first the need to recognize it. There are many, nay, infinite, areas of my life which need a little recognition and sprucing up; I anticipate the next several days will be spent in laying my inadequacies wide open for the world so that I may better address them.

The hubs and I have recently made some major life adjustments. The largest of these being that I left my job to stay home with our two children. I'm a former (on my third official day of freedom!) high school English teacher. Though there is nothing in the world I would rather spend my days doing than see to the raising of my own babies, I am not an excellent homemaker. This fact (and it IS a fact to which anyone who has ever been in my home can attest) is just one of the things that gave me doubt when we began to discuss the possibility of leaving my job to stay at home with the children. The other, I admit, was money. It was worry over not being able to provide my family with new clothes, a nice car, fun trips, and the myriad other things that I was, for some reason, worried about keeping. It was the pursuit of STUFF. I have long studied how to obtain more, and even while embarking on many short-lived attempts at living more simply, have never quite mastered the art of learning to live with less. I don't think that Thoreau means we ought to starve ourselves, or take up residence on the street without shelter overhead--even in his experiment at Walden, these needs were always met. But I do think that it is about deciding between what is needed and what is wanted, between convenience and necessity, between being "respectable" and worry about being "respected."

So the point is this: I am learning to rewrite the self-talk that occurs in my head. In the last months, I have quit my job, canceled the cable, and now drive a 20 year old van. There are many things I have been learning to do, most especially since having children, that I now see have been driven by this buried desire for simplicity. There are many more things that I have long aimed to do, but have failed because I have been too concerned with being respected. The trick is to undo all the learning and all the studying I have done over my life--to quit trying to obtain more and be content with less. As H.D. put it, “When any real progress is made, we unlearn and learn anew what we thought we knew before.”

Hey, while you're here, check out this fun link about a high school that studies Thoreau, sent to me by one of my favorite people. How awesome would it be to sit through school amongst the trees?

1 comment:

  1. Kierra - I am loving reading through your reflections. As I am buried in a life of grad school and work right now, you send a wonderful message. You truly do have a gift for writing, and I am thankful that you're deciding to share that gift and your journey with your readers and friends. Thanks for being you.
    Jenny Scott


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