Monday, April 13, 2009

The Simple Life

“I mean to lead a simple life, to choose a simple shell I can carry easily—like a hermit crab. But I do not. I find that my frame of life does not foster simplicity.”

--Anne Morrow Lindbergh

There are many types of sabbaticals, some planned and some forced. I’ve found that when I don’t plan for them that soon I’m forced into one. For many years, I was the “good” employee who didn’t take my vacation time. As an author, there is no allotted vacation time. When I stop my work, there is guilt over not writing. My friends are like me. We writers continue in the same frenetic pace from which we had hoped to escape when we quit our day jobs to write. It is not the life imagined. We simply traded the color of our shackles.

This week at Words to Go we will chat with three authors about The Simple Life. There are authors who have stopped their lives in order to renew and replenish; and there are a few authors who have pared down life in order to preserve it.

Preservation is an important reason to simplify. We rid ourselves of the debts that have shackled us so that we are no longer a bondservant to life’s overlords. If we spend our minutes paying off debtors rather than accomplishing Christ-honoring works, then we are slaves to our debtors rather than freemen to our dreams.

Free people own their hours, especially their down time.

As an exercise, if you’d like, you may keep a list of how you spend your free time this week and this weekend. Then categorize your list into two sections. Make one list the things that you imagined you’d do in your dream life. For the other, make a list of the things you do because you are shackled to it. Then when your list is about a week old, ask what you could do to leave behind the shackles and embrace the dream. And it’s a good time to assess the dream too. Is my dream achievable? What measures must I take to achieve it—such as sacrificing some of the excesses of life to achieve it. Also, does the dream include serving others; and at the opposite end of that deficiency, do you do nothing but serve others—an equally exhausting debt. People who tend to “only serve” might have fallen into the pit of “existential debt” or subconsciously trying to rectify a wrong from an old childhood wound.

Ask yourself, “What do I carry out of necessity and what can I lay down?”

Join Patty this week on Words to Go chatting with authors Randy Alcorn, author of The Treasure Principle and many best selling novels, and authors Cara Putnam author of Deadly Exposure and Susan Davis author of Maine Brides. Those leaving feedback will be entered in a drawing for book gives this Saturday.

Fun Fact: Patricia Hickman co-wrote Secrets From the Treadmill--Discover God's Rest in the Busyness of Life with Pastor Pete Briscoe, son of celebrated pastor-authors Stuart and Jill Briscoe.