It’s the day before January 6th, Epiphany, when we typically take down our Christmas tree. I groan, moan and generally get a bit cranky about this task. Fiddling with hooks and bows, trying to pack delicate ornaments back into the right boxes and getting everything stuffed back into the original space without expanding. Ugh. This year however, we have had an accidental breakthrough.
When we put up the tree, I didn’t push, nag or organize an ornament decorating effort. At first I was just too busy and then, as the 25th neared, I thought I’d wait and see what happened. On Christmas Eve someone round here finally said something like “OMG, the tree isn’t decorated!” At which point I declared that the moment had passed. I know that Christmas Eve tree decorating is a tradition in many countries, but it’s not happening here this year — don’t you like the clean and simple look?
Conversations amongst busy people inevitably get round to the topic of “Simplicity”. It’s even reached levels that have generated it’s own dedicated glossy magazine called “Real Simple. Life Made Easier”. Very enticing, right?
However, there are two things I’ve learned about myself and Simplicity, and why I’m so amazed at the Christmas tree breakthrough.
First, I typically equate simplicity with being more efficient. The question is always how can I achieve the same outcome with fewer steps, or less perceived effort, rather than how to make the final outcome simpler. The tree project was always tackled with a view to always ending up with a tree chock-full of all those carefully wrapped and stored ornaments. The breakthrough was a tree with no ornaments!
Second, if I do create space by simplifying, I quickly either fill it up with some other complex activity, or go back and undo the simplification, because I now suddenly have more time. Completely twisted, I know! The breakthrough was we didn’t rewind and fill Christmas Eve with tree decorating.
This was great. This feels like bona fide simplicity. Can I do it next year? Can I extrapolate this to other areas of my life? Not sure. I might lose my nerve, but it’s exciting to think about right now.