Friday, October 26, 2007

Simplify, simplify, simplify

I ran my car through a car wash this morning. I should do so more often. As is usual right after I wash my car, it is suddenly more peppy and has a smoother ride. That's nonsense of course, cleaning a car cannot possibly affect its performance, but it nevertheless feels very real to me.

I like things to be clean and orderly. With my hectic and often chaotic life, I seek refuge in a tidy environment and like things to be 'just so.' The problem is that others around me don't always have the same need. As a result I am often frustrated, and my frustration in turn frustrates others. My solution is to at least have the areas I frequent, like my office at work, and my computer/music room at home, reasonably tidy. It feels good. It gives me peace. And inner peace is what we all need.

I'm not obsessive about things. I just don't want to wade, knee-deep, through garbage to get to my office. I don't want to scrape yesterday's (or last week's) food spills off the kitchen table when I sit down to a meal. I'm using considerable dramatic license here, of course, I don't actually face these extremes at work or in my home, but allow me to exaggerate to make a point.

Our minds are like that, I think. Too much clutter makes for mental tension and frustration. If our lives are too complicated, we suffer. And if we suffer, often everyone around us does too. I periodically go through periods of simplification, where I select various annoyances and get rid of them. If something is more trouble than it is worth, it's time to clean house. A few years ago, my wife and I sold off all of our residential rental holdings. They were good investments, but the bang-for-the-buck was considerably diminished by problems with tenants and the way Ontario laws are biased against landlords. Now, without the buildings, we have fewer headaches. It was, for us anyway, a good move.

I am doing much the same again right now. I am scrutinizing everything I do and everything I own, and when I have completed my assessment, something or some things or maybe even lots of things will go. If it isn't fun, if it doesn't make enough money compared to the effort it takes to operate it, if I stub my toe on it when I walk across the room, I want to rid myself of it.

Our governments should do much the same. Every few years, there should be massive efforts to do away with useless laws and regulations. Committees and boards and enquiries should have built in sunset rules, so that they automatically expire at some predetermined point. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Life is far too complicated in this world of ours and it is getting worse every day.

I want to face each new day with a fresh and open mind. I don't want to be looking at a beautiful sunrise and have its effect diminished by a worry about how I am going to deal with a particular problem, or about who is going to be a pain in the ass to me later that day. Life is too short.

I'm making a list. I'm checking it twice. And I may hang on to the naughty and nice, but everything else better have a damn good reason for cluttering up my life.


  1. I beg to differ with you. A freshly washed and vacuumed car does indeed run better. It has smoother take off, faster speed and corners better. At least I think it does.
    As for our governmetns, I have come to the realization that taking a huge broom and sweeping that soggy unthinking lot out of office will make the country run better, wgive faster take off, greater speed and superior cornering.
    What can you tell me about Ron Paul?

  2. Ron Paul is a principled man who believes that the original framers of the U.S. Constitution got it right the first time, and that the document is as clear as can be and doesn't require much 'interpretation.'. He has consistently voted along those lines. He is for small government, individual rights, elimination of foreign entanglements, etc. A Google search on the guy will give you tons of information. He has been a Republican congressman, but is philosophically a libertarian and, in fact, ran as a Libertarian presidential candidate once.

    If Paul got a huge groundswell of votes it would send a very clear message to the federal government and federal politicians: the populace is fed up with huge spending, being policeman to the world, diminished individual rights, and so on. Is the U.S. the "Land of the Free" any more? Relative to some other nations, maybe. Relative to itself in past times, no.

  3. Amazing!
    I'm going through much the same housecleaning process myself: Items are being divided into the "Keep", "Sell" "Donate" and "Trash" categories.
    "Trash" has a commanding lead!
    If you've had it for five years or more, and have not used it once, it definately does not belong in the "Keep" category.
    My ultimate goal is to have nothing that won't fit into a full-size van - furniture excepted of course.

  4. It is certainly better to houseclean voluntarily than having the moving trailer packer say "Nope, no more, it's full." BEEN THERE, and far too recently.

    Mark was just discussing 'sunset clauses' with a gentleman in town today. An interesting fellow who has his many writings posted on

  5. Sunset clauses make a lot of sense. There are many laws on the books that were useless to begin with and still hang around because there is no real mechanism to repeal them easily.