Simplicity unites discipline and creativity

There are a couple of competing forces in my life, in my approach to life.
One side being very open and creative and wild and free, and the other side being very orderly, controlled, methodical.
And for most of my life I was heavily on the open creative side with almost no discipline, which left my output, my actual work, as a confused mess.
And so it’s been in the last few years that I’ve really worked on developing order and discipline, and have noticed tremendous improvements in my life through greater order and control.
But the order and control and discipline in and of themselves don’t provide meaning.
They don’t provide the answer in themselves.
They are only tools that can help us to live better lives.
But they don’t fill life with that meaning and joy and aliveness.
So there is always this tension between controlling ourselves, disciplining ourselves, living within this orderly system, which can be very effective, but then at the extreme of it is to have the feeling of robots, the feeling of going through the motions.
Even if we go through highly efficient and well-designed motions, ultimately, we still die.
Ultimately, living a highly disciplined, orderly life does not give us a full life.
So that’s where that counterforce is on the other side, of simply being wild and free and creative and spontaneous and responding to the moment and being open to whatever comes.
You know, blowing with the wind, going with the flow, and this kind of passive, receptive side of life.
Of course, it can still be very active, but it’s passive and receptive in the sense of responding to the moment, responding to what life gives us, being open to the surprises and subtleties of the moment.
So there is that kind of passive, receptive quality to it.
Whereas discipline and control is very active in the sense that we set guidelines for ourselves and we carry them out as an active program.
But of course, taking the open, creative side to the extreme, having no discipline, no focus, then our energies are scattered.
Scattered and dissolved.
So this contrast and this tension seems to be a permanent, continuous thing.
It’s a it’s a dynamic of life.
It’s a yin and yang.
But the thought that I had today: it’s just a little thought.
I thought about minimalism, simplicity, the essentials.
This kind of aesthetic, this kind of philosophy, this approach, this principle, of minimal simplicity.
And it seems to me to have the ability to- there’s something about it that brings both sides of that tension together.
Minimalism contains both the orderly discipline and the chaotic creativity.
Of course, the act of reducing our possessions and our thoughts and all the factors in our life, reducing them to simplicity, removing the complexity and choosing the essentials and then ruthlessly eliminating distractions to focus everything on the essentials: that is highly disciplined.
Of course, there’s enormous discipline in being able to say no to distractions, to remove distractions and to focus the will and the energy on the core things.
And it’s the pinnacle of orderliness to have that kind of control over ourselves in our environment to establish a program of minimalism and simplicity.
So it reaches the highest ideals of orderliness and discipline and control.
But then at the same time, that simplicity helps to make us open.
It helps to- it removes distractions and impediments to creativity, to openness, to experience, to that spontaneity.
So that we establish minimalism with discipline, but the life of minimalism, the life of simplicity, has so much room for spontaneous creativity, like a blank page, a blank canvas, a silence in which music can enter.
The open space created by simplicity and the disciplines of simplicity opens us up to creative possibility and allows our minds and hearts to be free to experience whatever comes in life.
So as I think about this balance between the controlled discipline side and the open creative side, I see in the practice of simplicity, we can have both.

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