Thursday 2 April 2015

Team Empty or Team Full? On Giving Up...

Now, I don't do Lent.  I just don't.  But it's been making me wonder about what (or whom or when or where) we give up, and how, and why.
It ties in very neatly with this book about habits I've been reading.
Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives
It's not just about learning how to get healthier habits in your life; it makes you ask curious questions about yourself.
For example:

  • Are you a simplicity lover or an abundance lover?  
  • Do you want to feel empty or to feel full?  
  • Do you want less or more?  To shed or to acquire?  
  • Are you a finisher or an opener?  

Works for me, but maybe not for you?
I've never really thought about it before but I'm definitely Team Empty.  I love how I feel when I fast. I endlessly strive (and fail) to have a clean, clear environment around me. I actively enjoy shedding things - be it pounds or possessions. At which point I pause and ponder...and people?  Nice bit of plosive alliteration there, huh?  Should I shed that too?  Has anyone given up someone for Lent, I wonder?  Isn't that a curious thought? 

I hate half-finished things.  I get satisfaction from emptying the last morsel from the pot (be it face cream or peanut butter) and getting rid of it.  I like new things, of course I do - but I will never be a proper shopper.  I just don't get a thrill from bags of new stuff.  Every time I buy something new, I find my mind worrying about what I can shed in order to make space.  And people? Some souls can endlessly gather friends but I have a limit on how many I can have in my life without feeling overwhelmed.  It's quite a small limit too.  

I think I've said it before but one of the happiest times in my life was when I had pretty well no possessions - just a small suitcase with a small amount of clothes.  I lived in a room on a cliff, overlooking the Atlantic on the east coast of the USA, and it was heaven.  I borrowed books; I listened to other people's music, I used a car and a bike when I needed them but they weren't mine.  I knew nobody. 

I am bewildered by choice, baffled by long menus, brutalised by browsing television or Internet, bruised by crowds.  

If you are an abundance lover this will doubtless horrify you. You will always want more, not less. Be hooked on bustle and busyness, not silence and serenity.  You will love plunging into something new and doubtless will have several things open and ongoing at the same time, be it jars of peanut butter (yes, it's a preoccupation) or projects.  I twitch if I see two packets of the same thing open in the kitchen cupboard and my mind goes into meltdown if you throw too many large projects at me all at once.  I hate parties. 

I'm not saying I'm right and you're wrong.  How could I?  We're just different.  I just wonder, why is it that we have these differences?  From where do they stem?  I doubt it matters but still... 

What do you give up?  When do you give up?  Why do you give up?  Or do you just give in?  Tell me.  


Anonymous said...

I'm like you and I don't do the too many open things in the kitchen.I am a solitary creature that likes my own company when possible.Its not that I dislike people I just prefer to be on my own mostly.
There's nothing like that realisation in life when you know you can do without stuff you thought you needed? The satisfaction that comes from a ruthless clear out at home.Its like a new page has been turned when I do this.I feel liberated knowing I have less in my life and less to worry about and be responsible for! Freedom in life is leading a simple,uncomplicated existence.I feel sorry for all those people in the materialistic trap of life 🙏

Frances said...

Jane, you might smile to have me tell you that since reading your Spirit of the Home, i've continued to try to keep the view into my tiny apartment as one enters down a cluttered, narrow (forget that for now) hallway, as clear as I can manage. I focus on the clear view.

In city life, we don't have much physical storage space, and might also have our reasons to try to travel a bit more light in our personal histories.

Is cosy a term of warmth via temperature, or of warmth from a more emotional definition?

I'm a bit older than you and was raised by parents who'd felt the full slap of the Great Depression hit their childhood times. And so, they naturally wished to have more comfort. And so, the next generation...and so forth. I've just read Anne Tyler's novel, A Spool of Blue Thread. The book treats the theme of entertwined repetitive motifs in family generations. Probably each of us could write (if we could write) similar books based upon our own experiences and the family lore we've been told or have observed.

Oh Jane, what a long comment, I'm leaving you. It might be both empty and full.

Happy Easter. xo

Anonymous said...

Gosh, you’re describing in wonderful detail what’s familiar. I patiently do scarcity for long stretches, until the energy switches and everything happens at once. Then I tend to surrender to the flow or I would feel overwhelmed. I discovered a connection to these extreme periods of scarcity and abundance, leading back to my birth-experience. This was brought into awareness while I was pregnant. Knowing I was breastfed for many months, I asked my mother on the phone to tell me more about my birth. She related my birth was long and exhausting. To give her a break, the midwife took me away into another room where I cried myself to sleep. ‘It’s good for her voice,’ she had insisted.
While listening on the phone, I was shocked to see the skin around a silver ring I wore turning black, and heat flashed through me, of rage, for which I had no words. By way of apology my mother said it didn’t feel right and she should have resisted the midwife. She went on to describe how, next morning, I was taken to her very full breast, at first acting stupid but eventually drinking until I could drink no more.
In later studies I learned about Stanislav Grof’s birth matrix maps, how condensed experiences draw onto themselves alike experiences, like self-affirming prophecies. Certain expectations are set up very early indeed. This made sense and helped to soften the pattern somehow.
In the end, the vastly different imprints make us into interesting people :) Not mass produced and pre-packed, as it were.

caughtwriting said...

I've just bought this book too but not started it yet. I'm a big fan of Gretchen Rubin. Your post made me think of another book I'm reading at the moment which might also shed light on some of the things you talk about - Quiet by Susan Cain. I'm only half a dozen chapters in but already it chimes with what you are writing here.

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

I am team empty too and married to an abundance lover. That can be tricky for both of us. Really enjoyed this post. You describe how it is to love emptiness so exactly.