One of my favorite simplicity books is titled Journeys of Simplicity: Traveling Light with Thomas Merton, Basho, Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard and Others.
This book is essentially a compilation of lists detailing what various people brought with them on specific journeys or carried with them regularly. I have read this book at least four times and glean something new from it each time.
A quote about Raymond Carver (poet and short-story writer) remains my favorite from the whole book.
“It was his practice not to save up things for some longed for future, but to use up the best that was in him each day and to trust that more would come.”
This quote hung on our refrigerator for over a year in our last rental home.
It gave me the courage to use all my energy each day, and pour myself completely into the people and activities around me.
I used to conserve my energy and hide it away like a miser. I was always afraid my energy would run out, so I wanted to use it wisely and always leave a little “in the tank” for the next day.
As a stay-at-home-mom this meant keeping distance between myself and my friends at times, because the interactions would require energy.
What I have since realized is that using my energy leaves me fulfilled at the end of the day.
I do not mean running around crazy or busy all day until exhaustion.
I mean intentionally choosing activities that restore. Activities that require a give and take model–you put in energy and receive it back.
Example: Yesterday we had a cookout with a dear friend and her family. I always leave my time with her restored. Social time naturally takes energy, but when you choose how you spend that social time it can also restore you. We chose to spend that time with them and left more energized.
Now I try not to withhold my energy.
I want to be fully present in each moment, even if it means expending energy.
It won’t always be an equal return. Sometimes you have to use up your energy just to get through a day. There may not be a restoration point before bed.
You have to trust more will come tomorrow.