Sipping on a cappuccino from a bowl shaped cup at my usual coffee shop I read the newspaper, updated my schedule on the cell phone, and stirred my coffee amidst a cacophony of giggles. "What now?" I mumbled.
I should have known my friend Susie, who runs her own business fixing up houses prior them going to the market, would be the one giggling and tapping me on the shoulder. In months prior was a course in miracles on the late side, but the past couple of weeks she'd been meeting me right on time. This meeting proved to be no exception. Looking at my watch in fact, Susie was ten minutes early. I told her that and she chided me, "Now Bob you make things so complicated. But don't feel bad. I was the same way and so are half my clients."
"What are you talking about?"
"It's society. Everyone is doing so much these days. Not only are my clients asking me to fix their homes, but some are asking me to fix their lives. I'm not a miracle worker. What I'm noticing is most folks want to simplify their life like me. They want to get back to basics and prioritize. I mean look at you, you're a perfect example, Mr. Has To Have The Latest Gadget Himself."
I defensively said, "Not so, that's Ronnie. You got us confused."
"Sure Bob. Your friend starts it and you follow. It's the classic keeping up with the Jones which gets you in debt and too stressed."
"But I like keeping current. Besides technological things aren't built for the long haul, most manufacturers expect a year of use and that's it. My purchases make economic sense."
"Bob, I'm not saying to forego buying a computer or the latest cell phone. I just got a new cell phone last week and a new computer a couple of months ago. These were necessary business expenses. My main point is it's time to simplify you life. Take a hard look at your finances and spend time rediscovering yourself. It's about eliminating possessions and social activities you've been attending simply out of a sense of obligation when the enjoyment's long passed. It's also about letting go of tasks which have lost their meaning or purpose."
"Susie, I'm not about to go live in some cabin in the middle of nowhere."
"Bob, for most people it's not about dropping out of society and moving to the woods. It's about regaining control over one's life. In the process you'll discover the activities, people, careers, and activities, which mean something to you. As you get into this new way of being you'll let go of the outer definition of self and rediscover your own individuality."
"Wow, Susie. It sounds you swallowed up some self- help book."
"You know me too well. I'm a big fan of the book, Keeping Your Life Simple by Karen Levine. One of the first places I wanted to change in my life was finances. I knew if I couldn't get my impulsive purchases under control no amount of eliminating clutter in my life and rediscovering the inner me would ever help. This is a good place for you to start too. Now I want you to honestly tell me the last time you made a major purchase and if it was your choice to buy or someone else's?"