Simplicity, as a way of being, goes way beyond making dinner in six ingredients or less. It is more than consolidating errands or cutting back on spending. And it is deeper than limiting the number of invitations given to a birthday party or reducing the size of the front yard flower bed. While these ideas are helpful in the short term, they do little to reduce the stress levels of an overly complicated way of living in the bigger picture of life.
Certainly do make those changes as you journey toward a more simplified lifestyle. However, as you embark upon the adventure of disentangling the complex minutes, hours, and days that make up your life, remember that the keys to achieving personal goals can only be found deep within yourself.
A common characteristic of people (no one group in particular, just a basic human trait) is the interminable need to control. We have an insatiable desire to exert our own control over others, over the community, over nature…everything. The best thing we can do with that need?
Every morning when I wake up, I check my e-mail on my very fun little smartphone, and I read my own personalized note that comes from the Universe itself (sign up to receive yours at http://www.tut.com
– always fun and entertaining to read, and more often than not, also thought-provoking). A part of my note the other day said, “Only in hindsight will the miracles become obvious.”
Isn’t that exactly right? It certainly is for me. All of the bumps and twists in the road along this journey of life have amounted to precisely that…miracles, both small and large. Think about it…the hardest, toughest, most heart-wrenching and difficult situations to navigate in life are the very same situations that have opened up doorways to new, tremendous, golden opportunities. Could I see that as I passed through those tough times?
No, not at all.
And the worst moments within those times were a direct result of my own need to try and control those situations. Things just don’t work like that.
As John Steinbeck said, “A journey is like a marriage…the certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.”
As you search your soul for direction on your simplification journey, it is important to recognize exactly where you fall on the “Need for Control” Spectrum. Once you recognize where you fall, think hard about all of those specific situations which you are trying to control on some level. And then come to a mutual understanding with this statement:
The only thing you have control over is yourself.
That’s it, plain and simple. The internal recognition of this fact has the potential to bring an overwhelming semblance of simplicity to your life. By letting go of the perpetually overbearing need to control anything other than yourself, you are giving the gift of time and peace to your mind and your soul.
The decisions you make will be based in ensuring that you maintain control over your own actions, reactions, words, and thoughts.
If everyone on earth were to be so responsible, the miracles found within a simplified lifestyle would never cease.
Juana’s Corncakes (as served to Kino in Steinbeck’s classic “The Pearl”)
1/2 cup softened butter
1/3 cup masa harina*
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups whole kernel corn, cooked and cooled
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup white sugar
2 T heavy whipping cream (add for option 1 only!! See below)
1/2 tsp baking powder
Beat the butter til it’s creamy, then add the masa harina and water until it is all well mixed together. Mash up the whole kernel corn in a food processor (Juana had to work it by hand…feel lucky!) until it is mashed but still a little chunky, then mix it into the butter mixture.
Add the cornmeal, sugar, whipping cream (if using option 1) and baking powder and mix thoroughly.
If you want to add a little bit of spice to your life, toss in some minced green chilies…
Now you get to make one of two choices:
option 1) pour the batter into an 8×8 baking pan, cover with foil and place into a 9×13 baking pan that has an inch of water in it. Bake it at 350 for 50-60 minutes and let it cool. Scoop it out and serve it on top of chili.
option 2) keep the whipping cream out of the batter, measure 1/2 cup patties onto a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes at 350, flip them over and bake for another 8 minutes or so, then serve with whatever you’d like (salsa verde, chili, taco meat in between two cakes…the possibilities are endless…Kino (in “The Pearl”) just rolled them up and dipped them in sauce).
*masa harina is the traditional flour used to make tortillas. It is traditionally made from maize then treated in a lime/water solution. Mexican markets or stores with decent international sections will sell masa harina…sometimes it can be found next to the flour.