The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary
so that the necessary may speak.
~ Hans Hofmann
- To clear what may be holding us back and to cheer on what is calling us forward.
- To invite more energy, inspiration, freedom of spirit, and mystery into our lives.
This is the second of the five steps that are at the heart of this journey. They are essential practices that make it possible for us toreplace unnecessary effort with ease, clutter with clarity, irritating drama with inspirational dreams. Hopefully, after Nissan, we now are more aware of slowing down. During Iyyar, with its theme of Simplifying, we’ll experience how the biggest changes, ironically, come from taking the smallest steps. This is not only about making time for yourself and feeling good physically. It also is a revolutionary act that can enhance your perspective about everything.
IYYAR AND COUNTING THE OMER
On our calendars we have special days and occasions marked – birthdays, anniversaries, yahrzeits, Shabbats, Festivals. Those who follow the biblical calendar also note the forty-nine days of the Omer that connect Passover and Shavuot. This makes each of these days a special occasion. We count it, take note of it, and make every day count by doing the serious introspection connected with it. As with other mitzvoth – prayer, Torah study, tzedakah, etc., the spiritual becomes woven together with our regular, daily schedule.
The uniqueness of the month of Iyyar lies in the fact that the entire month falls within the Omer count. The other months of the year serve as a background for the special days they contain but Iyyar is all special days. In other months there are spiritual highs surrounded by ordinary days; in Iyyar every day becomes special and can raise us higher spiritually.
A dictionary definition of ‘simplify’ is: clarify, cut down, facilitate, reduce, shorten, streamline, clean up, clear up, get down to basics. We can, therefore, deduce that if you simplify something you make it easier to understand; you remove the unnecessary and/or redefine the things that make it complex.
Iyyar is a particularly important month, therefore, to make the necessary effort to be aware of, and to examine and refine, our lives – to simplify, declutter, and to gain greater focus mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
This awareness takes place primarily in our minds, our thinking. Martin H. Fischer made an interesting observation: “Knowledge is a process of piling up facts; wisdom lies in their simplification.” Albert Einstein, himself, said that if you can’t explain a concept to a six-year old, then you don’t understand it yourself. Steve Jobs, who took great risks and made enormous strides in digital communication technology, primarily by simplifying complex systems, clarified ‘simple’:
“Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
SIMPLICITY AND NATURE
“If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity,
to the small things hardly noticeable,
those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
When we view the mind-boggling enormity of the universe and the wonders of nature we can be overcome by the complexity. However, the more one discovers, and the closer one looks, the simplicity of the details is breathtaking.
Take a dandelion. A simple weed that sprouts as the grass grows in the Springtime. Many people view them as a nuisance and mow them down as soon as possible. However, when you take a closer look, as this photographer did, the sheer fragility and beauty of the little ‘weed’ is stunning.
Similarly, people can sometimes feel like a small, unnoticed dandelion, maybe even, G-d forbid, like a nuisance to others. We need to remember constantly that each of us are unique and beautiful creations. We are wonderfully created by a loving, caring Creator who loves each of us as if we were His only child. In fact, we are royal children of the King of the Universe. He notices and is able to provide for our smallest needs. And He does the same for each of His creations, whether it be the meticulous functioning of a galaxy or a ladybug flying on a drifting dandelion.
Simple awareness and slowing down enough to take notice of the small things can broaden and deepen our perspective about everything.
SIMPLICITY AND ‘SMALL STEPS’
Simplifying is an important fist step in a larger process. It can feel like a liminal space, a transition; when you’re neither quite here or there. Its purpose is to have a greater breakthrough in achieving a goal or fulfilling a dream or vision. It requires the ‘small steps’ of:
- Gaining a clear understanding of your situation – of where you stands mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
- Have a clear idea of your short term and long term goals. Write them down and review them regularly; daily if possible but at least weekly.
- Purpose to declutter your environment. Notice what is unnecessary to your present life. What can you give away or throw away? Take some time every day – even fifteen minutes or half an hour, to focus on one area, no matter how small, and do the pruning.
- Purpose to be more aware of your thinking patterns, your emotions, and reactions to different situations. Notice any that are negative and determine to replace them with what is positive.
- Examine your calendar and timetable. Reduce any unnecessary drains on your time and streamline where possible. Remember the quote: “Eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”
The end result of taking these steps will be a breakthrough to a wider perspective, greater awareness, more successful accomplishment of the endeavors you are undertaking, and, perhaps most importantly, a mind that is more at ease, and a happier, more fulfilled you!
Be prepared to soar higher in our Father’s love this Iyyar!