We’ve all heard the phrase “Less is more” but how often to we really employ this? We are always seeking “more.” Say more, do more, be more.
As another birthday descends upon me, I feel a case of the ‘more neuroses’ coming on. Have I done enough? Or is my life one big chaotic ‘less’ compared to my peers? After all, they’ve managed to publish books, run companies, buy homes and adopt children from Uganda while my main accomplishment is outsmarting the parking ticket administration. Sigh. My ‘less’ is as uncomfortable as wearing a big itchy wool sweater during San Francisco’s August when everyone else is frolicking in bikinis somewhere warm. I am desperately trying to figure out how I can squeeze in ‘more’ before I hit another age mile marker. Can I get married, finish a book, and hike Mt Rainer by next week? Probably not. Thus, this birthday it’s time to embrace less….and be happy doing so. Perhaps ‘more’ will be my reward.
In efforts to take initiative and be seen as ‘smart’ I sometimes make directive comments at meetings. Okay, perhaps I do this more than sometimes. The problem with wanting to express (more) ideas is that they go into a large ‘idea pile’ where no one can distinguish the good from the bad. There is always the sage designer to my right who sits still, listens, and chimes in at the end of the meeting with one beautifully packaged nugget of brilliance. Everyone loves him. I want to *be* him. But unfortunately I have a rare condition known as “diarrhea mouth.” A friend offered a cure. “Take 3 poker chips to each meeting. Each chip represents your allowance to speak. Use them wisely, because once they are gone, you cannot talk anymore.”
3 poker chips?!
“What if I build off of what someone else is saying,” I ask. “Can I get a ‘free chip’.”
“No,” he said.
I grudgingly tried this at my last meeting. Instead of focusing on everything I was going to say, I listened to to the conversation and wrote down my thoughts. When I felt no one had covered a point I had drawn up, I spoke up and cast in a chip. At the end of the meeting I had only spoken twice and the wise designer commented on how valid my points were. Had I ‘outsaged’ the sage with my carefully placed bets?
Regardless if we are single, married, poly or asexual, we all want more love in our lives. From our friends, families, and romantic partners. But trying to force more often results in less.
Last year, a male friend read over my letter to a romantic interest. “You are using all those flowery adjectives. I don’t think he’ll make it to the bottom. Which may be a good thing since you have a quote from Shakespeare down there.” Right.
The email letter incident was a significant improvement from my last love letter a few years ago where I constructed a handwritten note, sprayed it with perfume, and sealed it with hot wax before sending it ‘par avion”.
“You’re going to scare him. Be more mysterious. Reveal less.”
“I have a blog,” I retorted, “I’ve revealed more than Madonna.”
“Well, maybe don’t send out the link quite yet.”
Holding back isn’t easy for me. If I like something or someone I typically need to express it right away. Sometimes in rhyme. However, by refraining from detailing my feelings gives the other person a chance to reveal theirs over time…and *then* I can determine if they are worthy of the letter effort. Is my newfound silence working? I would tell you but I’m trying to be mysterious.
In the past five years I have had two torn ankles, three stress fractures, and one odd sea urchin spine removal surgery. With the exception of the pesky sea urchin (never surf on the beaches of Sayulita, Mexico!), the others could have been prevented had I just not done a few double workouts. Stress fractures are a overuse injury and I was definitely overusing my body in attempts to be “more” and fit into the same dress I had in college. Doing more actually resulted in less as I spent a good portion of the last five years on crutches. You can’t really wear a dress on crutches.
My doctor told me “If you want to run at age 80 then you need to run less now. Plus you can get a great workout in 45 minutes if you work hard and focused.” Was the doctor channeling Tim Ferriss? Could I too have a four hour body? Perhaps it doesn’t matter how perfect my body is is as long as it carries me through the next 50 years of my life. And for that I’ll need to use it less now.
As we get older, I think we need to be okay being less…or rather ‘as is’ without wanting more. Happiness is wanting that which you already have. Or are. We are products of our choices and even though our choices may not have granted us ‘more money’ or ‘more skinny jeans’ they probably allowed us other amazing adventures. After all, had I never made it to India, I never would have purchased my wax sealing letter kit.
As I grow to understand life less and less, I learn to live it more and more. -Jules Renard, writer (1864-1910)