In 1976, Erich Fromm wrote a book called, “To Have or To Be?” It describes how true happiness can only be experienced if you live life focused on being (valuing experiences) instead of having (valuing things). Our society is focused on having, and therefore works constantly against us. If we lose sight of being, then we get caught up in acquiring and lose ourselves.
I tend to be an all or nothing person. Some describe behaviors as pendulums, swinging back and forth from one extreme to another. Mine seems to exist only at the two end points. My struggle tends to be finding a middle ground on which to land.
In this newness of developing and dwelling in a clutter-free existence, I am finding I have to work hard to carve out space. I’ll be doing well one week, a place for everything and everything in its place; but then I turn around and piles of junk mail and laundry seem to have taken back over my room. I set things down, intending to get to them later, and never do. It takes work. It takes a structured, scheduled time to perform the maintenance required to keep things clutter-free. Constancy and consistency.
This doesn’t apply only to the physical realm of my room. I need to apply the same scheduling and effort to my spiritual life. The looming expenses of life focus me back on the having. Just being with the Lord, hearing and meditating, gets lost in the clutter of my mind. To maintain the space to hear from God, to listen, to dwell in peace, I have to carve it out and keep it protected. The joy I find from creating is there waiting, but it never seems to take the priority when other things pop up. Circumstance conspires against me; I give in too easily. An extra 1/2 hour of sleep seems more needful until….
…until I realize I’m awake all night with thoughts swirling around because I haven’t given myself that time to process things in the still and quiet. I became lost, once again, in my to-do list instead of guarding my quiet time to listen and to create and to be with my Jesus.
Then suddenly everything seems harder. Frustration makes dropping a pencil a catastrophic event.
Not all is lost. I know that. I’ve done well sticking to my 7 foods only meal plan. Another 11 lbs gone.
But I want the peace back. I don’t want that creative space I just found to slip away so soon. So I’m back with my figurative pick-axe, carving out some more time for thoughts and considerations…for listening and artistry. To focus on being and experiencing.
I need to find that dwelling place. The middle ground. And land firmly with both feet, planted.