Saturday, June 13, 2009

Distractions

"If man does not simplify his life, he will end up tormenting himself. But if he simplifies it, all his anxiety will go away."

- Elder Paisios of Mount Athos

I have not posted for quite some time because life has been overflowing. Seems there are so many things to do and not enough time available to accomplish everything. How interesting it is that we have a plethora of technological inventions designed to make things easier for us, yet we often continue to feel overburdened by work and responsibilities.

Many days I long to live in a different era... in a time with less technology and more community. Something about our way of living feels so unnatural and imbalanced. I long for stillness, for quiet, for a refuge from this world and its seemingly endless current of activities. I find myself waxing nostalgic for the times when I was living, working, and learning in community at an organic farm and an ecovillage.

Before I was married and had children, I lived a much simpler life. Now I find I'm in a continual struggle to balance my deep longing for simplicity with meeting the needs of my family. It is not always easy. We live in a world of too much information, too many choices, and too much "stuff." In the midst of this culture of overload, it can be easy to be lured in by worldly distractions.

For many years, I have lived without television, and I do not miss it, not even a little bit. Yet over the past couple of years, I have allowed the internet to silently creep into my life and erode at my sense of peace. A few months ago, I took an email hiatus. It was wonderfully refreshing to take a break from feeling a need to correspond with others via email. Don't get me wrong, I love keeping in touch with friends, but it had become too overwhelming to keep up with. Recently a friend invited me to join facebook. It seemed pretty innocuous at first, but now it is starting to become yet another distraction from real life. I feel as though I am on a slippery slope...

Part of me wants to just flick the switch off, but there are practical considerations to be considered. I pay most of my bills online, saving paper and simplifying my recordkeeping in the process. I am part of a homeschool group that posts its activities only via an online community. I find online mapping software to be incredibly easier than looking at a map for directions (Yet, interestingly enough, I traveled all kinds of places in my younger years with a good-old-fashioned map. So, perhaps this is just my laziness.) And (ironically) my husband and I are about ready to launch an online business.

I have been reading a wonderful book, "With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man," a collection of spiritual counsels from Elder Paisios of Mount Athos. Elder Paisios points out that, "In the old days, when we did not have telephones, taxes, and all kinds of gadgets, we lived tranquil and simple lives." (p. 153) While I ache for a world free of such distractions, this is not the reality in which we live. So, the challenge for me will be to "separate the wheat from the chaff." One moment, one breath, one decision at a time.

2 comments:

Free Bird said...

Hello Stephanie,
Just wanted to thank you for your contribution on the HE website, I am a student at IHE candidate and I am combining my Christian Faith and Humane Education to teach and develop wellness prgrams. I'm also from PA, southwest. Go Steelers! I am glad I could find connection through our interests. Thanks for sharing. - Alfreda McCray

Stephanie said...

Alfreda,

So sorry I have not responded to your post here. Somehow your comment got tucked away and was unpublished... not sure what happened. And I have also taken a bit of a blogging hiatus. So glad that we are able to connect here. I would be interested in hearing more on the development of your programs.

Stephanie