• Mona

The Art of Simplicity


As a teenager I was continuously being grounded. I was stuck at home for what felt like months in two week increments when I would’ve preferred to be out. It was my mom’s way of control, isolating me from my friends and activities. Which only forced me in one of two directions. Either further anger, hanging on the gate, hardened and chomping to be sprung free. Or soften, accepting she had a point I was out of line and make the most of it. The choice was mine as to how I would spend my days.

With Covid going on, in a weird way, I am comforted by the fact this is a cycle and there is an end. We are guided by the template of humanity handed down to us through the ages. Death, transformation, and resurrection. It happens to the best of us. We can’t outsmart it, can’t out-wait it, out-run it. We need to go through it.

And in a mini way, MS did the same thing in my life. I went through the death of life as I had known it, was transformed by it and now feel like I’m living a resurrected version, completely different but more beautiful because of it.

So here we are in the eye of the Covid storm. The death part. The crucifiction and suffering part. So what do we do? How can we get through it? What do we do with all this time on our hands? We can only jog and garden so much.

I’d like to share a little of how I got through the initial stages of MS, some of my tips. And I must say they sure have served me well during these days self isolation.

It goes way back. Being grounded is maybe where my desert island challenge began. Who knows, but when I was a kid I would always ask myself if I was stranded on a desert island what would be the one thing I would take, the one thing that would sustain me in all storms? Over the years I would ask myself that same question. And the answer was always the same: a pen, a writing instrument of some sort. And well, two things. I’d need paper.

I always felt that with that one thing I could write words and draw pictures. And there are a limitless amount of words and pictures. And having a tool to tap into that infinite well of my mind and imagination would be that all I would need. A pen.

Next I had to give some thought about what I wanted to fill my tank with. So early on I became fussy about what I fed myself mentally so I had good stuff to draw from. I once had an employer whose favorite expression was ‘garbage in, garbage out.’ I knew exactly what she meant. I liked to think I lived by that principle.

Then in my 30’s I came across the scripture of ‘laying up your treasures in heaven where moth and rust and thief couldn’t take it’ (my words - the real verses are Matthew 6:19-21) so that cinched it. Those were the things I wanted to fill up on. I didn’t know exactly what it meant but I could feel it was along the lines of what I aspired to.

Exploring the treasures of heaven is a life long endeavor and I’m still at it. But back then, it gave the seeds to a peaceful, contented life .

In that same vein I also challenged myself with the principle of less is more. It was a game I played with myself to see how much I could do without. If I could conjure up a contented mindset with just a pen, what else was out there that I didn’t need? I admit did dip over into miserly stinginess at times. But happy to say I made progress over the years.

Along with laying up my treasurers in heaven, I came to learn it was in effect building my house on a rock foundation. Where the storms would come and ‘beat against the house, yet it did not fall’ (Matthew 7:24-27). And it’s true, I’m in a brick house that the wolf huffed and puffed against.

So how does that play out in Covid? Remember than pen? I developed it over the years and have been able to put it to good use. And have some fun too. Things like elevator art to help build morale, and volunteering for The Story Project, a project to write a one page synopsis’s for 200 dementia residents in a care facility. And a whole host of other activities not contingent on ‘out there’.

I was talking with my good friend Glenda at Easter and we both agreed not much changed in terms of lifestyle. We live simply. Are pretty much homebodies and have everything we need. No burning desire for things to go back to the way they were. There’s certainly things we miss and adjustments to make but basically life is the same.

So even though being grounded is outside of our control, we have two choices as to how we respond. We can harden ourselves or relax our grip and let it transform us in new directions.

And I pray for the latter because I’ve been there and seen what it can do.

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