Chasing simplicity. Thoughts on being alive.

Powered by Blogger.


The pregnant young hairdresser cut my hair with the utmost precision. It was a Monday morning, the the budget hair salon was characteristically devoid of people, as the bulk of clients frequent on the weekends.  ‘How far along are you?’- I asked. ‘I’ve got six weeks to go’- she answered as her stool swiftly glided from my left to my right. We exchanged more words. She told me it was her first. Then she made eye contact with me in the mirror, her scissors stopped- ‘It’s going to be my only child. I’ve always wanted a family of three that travels overseas. Not a family of four that only goes camping’.


When my mind is quiescent, when the worries stop and the letting go happens, I breathe deep.  I release the tense shoulders and neck muscles. I read novels while letting the bookkeeping pile. I lounge around in my dressing gown drinking matcha tea and enjoy my son deeply; my hands trace the contours of his round rosy cheeks while my arms gently wrap him in a light squeeze. Gratitude trickles into my heart and life suddenly becomes very bearable.


I {wrote about this} before. Now, strangely, I am my bag. I identify with the object so deeply it feels as though it is an extension of my being. Small, unadorned and weighs next to nothing. It’s a cheap calico bag.
I don’t like the crisp new bag but with use, the fabric crinkles. Harsh lines form as the objects inside the bag yield to gravity. Light stains appear and the bag strap softens and moulds its way around my shoulder. It is comfortable. I feel at home.

Golden light, August.

My third flight in August took me to Hong Kong airport. Beyond the large windows, the sight was nothing short of magnificent. Walls and walls of lush green mountains rise up steep, and when they plateau out they form undulations and cradles, highlighted by sunlight, contoured by shadows.

Hong Kong wasn’t my final destination. Not that it mattered. I find that the things forever seared into my memories are just a string of random events that happened while I was waiting for something else better to happen. That time I sat on the kerb in Fitzroy eating potato calzones with my husband. My baby son trying to floss. Op-shopping with my friend when I was jobless. Yes, those moments heavy with quiet joy.

Anyway, this flight, a middle aged Jewish man sat a few rows in front of me, across from the aisle. I noticed him taking his seat, wearing a black suit and a black broad brim hat. He started reading. All his meals arrived wrapped in an unbelievable amount of cling wrap, clearly labelled. Later, I noticed the Jewish man falling asleep. The sky was no longer teeming with clouds; instead, warm golden sunlight saturated the atmosphere. The light weaved its way inside the giant metallic flying machine, landed on the man’s tray table, illuminating the aged grains of the black leather book, and its tattered paper edges. Worn. Beloved. Reread countless times.  In the golden light, the book looked magical.


I haven't been able to put this vague notion into words, until now. As I become more aware of my emotions, it’s easier to identify the distinctive spheres in which these emotions exist.

The heart space is a lovely place to be in, where I am happy with the status quo. I see things through the filter of contentment, and everything is often fantastic . Even when things don’t go well, a dose of gratitude is often all that’s needed to transform an undesirable circumstance into something a lot more bearable. The heart place is a place to rest. My family, my son, and my treasured friends all belong to the heart space.  Also found here are my spiritual beliefs, yoga, creative pursuits. There are simply no goals, no destination, no itineraries, just the calm moments suspended in time and space, the way the fog hangs over a sleepy winter forest, the way the sun melts into an mirror of sea at sunset.

The head space is a space for striving, achieving, and achingly yearning for MORE. It’s about noticing where you are and then desperately trying to pursue the next goal post, the next achievement, the next mountain to climb. It’s about putting on a brave fight in the arena. It’s a heady mix of mountain top highs and crushing lows.The head space is where I am in when I am in business mode, where profit matters, numbers need to be closely watched, and ever expanding to do lists gotta be conquered.

I recently had to make a decision in my business. It baffled me how polar opposites my decisions are depending on whether I’m functioning in head mode or heart mode.

And here lies the dilemma. When I’m stuck in my head mode I can’t rest. Stuck in my heart mode I can’t grow. I wish I knew what the perfect balance of the two are, is it 60:40, 50:50 or maybe  30:70? Does it have to be so black and white, so distinct? I have found that what utmostly shift the balance between head and heart are the circumstance, the matter involved, the people involved, and what’s at stake.

And much as I love comfort and contentment, I sometimes find that I can’t reside in the heart space forever. The waters there are just too still for my liking.

All the moons, stars , jeans and plain T-shirts.

I don't go through life thinking about certain things on a daily basis, things such as auroras on Jupiter or the spherical and the odd-shaped moons of Saturn, how these moons named after the mighty Gaelic and Inuit gods and how they journey silently through space, unknown to most humans most of the time.

I approach my clothes in a similar way, with little attention paid and a high degree of automation. While I am a passionate admirer of the brand Gorman - how fantastically bold and colourful and centre-of-the-party the prints are, most of the time, I wear my dark coloured jeans with my plain T-shirts, mostly grey. The uniform simplifies life. It frees up energy wanting, debating and shopping. It leaves plenty of room for admiring things from afar. All that little pockets of energy and time saved usually knit together into a sense of freedom and gratitude for the good things I have in my life.

The capricious Melbourne weather is actually kind to my wardrobe. Except for a few handfuls of hot days in summer, jeans and short-sleeved T-shirts are perfect for a base layer, before knits and jackets pile on top.

I am not saying I am dressing this way for the rest of my life. No. I know myself well enough to realise that I don't usually commit to a certain way of doing things forever. But now, I feel that I've truly stumbled upon something that both simplifies and transforms at the same time. And for that I am grateful.

I'm not my bag.

I call myself a minimalist, not because I have so few possessions that I can proudly do youtube video and show you everything I own in under two minutes. No. I am a minimalist because, for a few years now, one of my core beliefs and primary desires is this insatiable urge to contract rather than to expand the number of things I own.

I have one pair of black shoes that I wear ninety five percent of the time, one pair of heels, one pair of ballet flats, one pair of summer sandals, but that's not the point really. I spend money mostly on e-books, take-away coffees and colourful salads. My purchases often don't have a physical form, they don't add to the small number of things I have already own. What they do add to, what they grow exponentially in, is this incredible sense of freedom. Every morning, as I sit in my mostly empty room at home enjoying a cup of coffee, I feel as though I could easily PACK UP  and leave my life ANY TIME, even though the need for such a drastic act of abandonment has never arisen. I am telling you all this because I am about to tell you how I fell off the minimalist wagon.

A few months ago I caught up with a friend whom I  had not seen in a while. She works in the same industry as me. I had a good time, the meal was thoroughly enjoyable, until I noticed her bag. It was small, Chanel's, with a price tag of at least five thousand dollars. On that very day I had been walking around the city with my husband and son. At that very moment, my bag was a cheap vegan shoulder bag, wet from water spillage, bulging with my son's half-eaten package of rice crackers. Against a bag that was neat, elegant, and exquisite mine seemed unorganised, disheveled, cringe-worthy, and JUST-NOT-GOOD-ENOUGH.

Now, not-enough-ness is a peculiar thing. It compels people to do many strange things. So the next day after the bag incident I went shopping for a designer bag. I know. I know.

In the air-conditioned haven that's called Chadstone I agonised for hours. A few thousand dollars seem unreasonable given that those damn bags don't even suit my needs. They were either too heavy, too small, or too expensive. I wondered what the hell I was doing there. I wondered why I cared what people may think of my bag. I wondered if people even notice my bag at all. In the end, I settled on a large tote, light-weight, with a price tag of five hundred dollars. It it still slightly impractical for my everyday use, and until this moment it's still in its dust bag, waiting for the next occasion where I meet with same industry people with whom I think I SHOULD look successful.

{Image link}

Rest, of sorts.

In July, I flew interstate and overseas for a few business trips. On the minus side, when I don’t actively work at the business, the business bank accounts look a bit sad. With most small businesses, the overheads are the same whether you work or not. These trips were not sales related, they were mainly for the purpose of professional development. 

On the plus side, the trips were the break from work I desperately needed. I have written previously about the amount of stress I was under earlier in the year. Taking time off allowed me a chance to step back and reflect, and the knowledge I learned on these trips imparted a renewed sense of enthusiasm and confidence in my work. The breaks were tremendously restorative.

I went to a South East Asian country, where the air this time of the year was pleasantly humid, and people were polite and welcoming. I loved sitting in my 12th floor hotel room at night, facing the large window. This expanse of glass covered the whole facade of the room, floor to ceiling, providing a thin divide between the hotel room and the vibrant city underneath. Sitting there with my hands on the glass watching  the glowing city lights and the constant traffic trail, I felt as though I could palpate the pulsating energy of the night.