Simplify man!

Hi. My name is Wade and Jimena asked me to contribute something to her blog.  One of the recent posts there,(or here) is about poverty leading to simplification.  I dis/agree with Jimena in/on so many ways/points. This recent post though has special meaning to me, which you will discover soon. Most importantly, I think where we disagree is in the wording, though, not the spirit of the idea.  Let me give you my perspective on this, then you can take both and put them together for a richer experience

Today, my eye doctor told me that the pressure in my eyes was way too high and it was dangerous and might eventually cause blindness, because that’s what glaucoma does.  Now, I do understand my doctor’s point of view and tone. He’s a specialist and  a bit of an alarmist. It’s what he does, and what he is.  My wife says all specialists are alarmists…and she’s right. Be it an ophthalmologist, or a philosopher, a teacher or your mother, there is a certain expertise and gravity to that “it’s dangerous and you’ll go blind” that, when spoken in a serious, direct tone you just can’t ignore.  There’s also your inner voice that sounds more like a shrieking child…Oh My GOD! I’M GOING  BLIIIIIIIND.  Unfortunately, you can’t calm that voice.  You can suppress it, but it resurfaces from time to time; like every twenty minutes or so.  

It acts much like an internal censor, really. It’s constantly there to ask me if I shouldn’t be out seeing something like staring intently at sunsets, reading every last word I possibly can, or admiring the alluring feminine.  But what, REALLY should I be looking at?  My wife’s beautiful eyes or smile?  My cats sneering grimace, or her tiny little paws?  The picture of my mother and father that was taken before my father passed away?  No.  I will always have these things.  The important things never die, nor will I stop seeing them in my mind.  And this, I believe, leads to the point Jimena would like to make.  Some things are important, others aren’t.

Generally speaking, material things aren’t so important, but if and/or when I am no longer able to see, there will be some things I won’t be able to use again and much more that I will.   First, I can kiss my convertible sports car goodbye. Of course, I am convinced lots of other drivers in Guadalajara have gone blind, and I don’t think anyone would notice me as I go weaving around the periferico.  The car wasn’t that important to begin with, but it was fun.  That’s probably the most materially useless thing I own. Other things, though have been important to me and I will miss them, like my cameras.  


I was a photographer at one time in my life (I thought I was pretty good at it), and I while I still can see, I do imagine the world as a collection of pictures. I even try to see things like I would as if I were still a photographer;  by looking for the perfect composition of a photo.  That part of my identity will be  gone forever, and I will mourn its loss.  But, before I do lose my sight, I want to finish a documentary video project I am working on. I will need my cameras for that.  Remember, if you have expensive stuff make sure you can do really big things with it.   By big, I mean important.  By important, I mean meaningful. By meaningful, I mean not just for you. Share what’s meaningful for you.  And what’s meaningful and important to me is the rest of what I have.

Besides my clothes, I have a couple of guitars and a set of drums.  Well? Think about it, eh?  I can play those instruments without seeing. I play in two bands.  I like the drums in particular, and I am beginning to come around to the idea that my voice isn’t that bad.  The best part for me has to be the sharing and the teamwork that we as groups have.  I don’t need vision to have good timing or to fret a chord correctly.  If I go blind, I won’t be wasting time on Facebook, YouTube or other video/social  things.  I will be practicing and listening, talking and singing.  Did you notice, though? I don’t need too many material things to get me working with the elements that are already part of my very being. If you think about it from that perspective, of what your soul requires, then you already have a good idea of how to simplify.


I love to cook.  Not because everything I make is great (though I am probably better at it than you would imagine), but because I love building and making things that I and my wife and friends can enjoy together.  I only need a good sense of smell, taste and  touch to cook. Cooking feeds me my family, friends, and my soul.  My soul also loves to express itself, so I love to write.  I learned to type when I was younger, so, I can do that by touch and not  looking at the screen anyway.  I have been writing as long as I can remember, so it’s something I have earned over a long period of my life. Again, it’s important to my being, it’s not a material thing, and I plan to continue writing even if I do go blind.  


Now true, guitars and instruments are expensive, and so are things for cooking.  I go for good quality, not necessarily a name and I spend generously to have what I want and need. The truth is this:  these things have very important jobs to do in the future and therefore are super important to me. For these things, money’s no object.  Finally, the rest of the things i own just don’t matter.  I won’t need my watch.  I won’t need my big screen TV’s.  I can sure as heck do without a laser printer.  I am not sure I will really need my tablet devices or my appledroid phone, nor will I need to be the sharpest dressed person.  (If I am blind, I will probably only care that I am properly covered, not perfectly matched and colored).  Nor will I need many other material things. In short, I will only need the things that nourish my soul and those of my loved ones and friends.  Anything else will be a waste of time and money.


And so, to conclude, I don’t think Jimena and I are too far apart here.  I can’t possibly make you see (no pun intended) from my perspective, but I would ask you to at least think about what’s truly important to you. If you can find those things, you will very quickly lose your desire for the material things in life, and start living your life in a big, important, meaningful, and sharing way.

Wade Alley


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