Anne Morrow Lindbergh

An Excess of Shells

August 19, 2015

Photo courtesy Unsplash

“One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can collect only a few, and they are more beautiful if they are few. One moon shell is more impressive than three. There is only one moon in the sky….

“There are so few empty pages in my engagement pad, or empty hours in the day, or empty rooms in my life in which to stand alone and find myself. Too many activities, and people, and things. Too many worthy activities, valuable things, and interesting people. For it is not merely the trivial which clutters our lives but the important as well. We can have a surfeit of treasures—an excess of shells, where one or two would be significant.”
—Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From the Sea



Less Is More

January 11, 2013

Between sickness (nearly recovered from) and jury duty (completed), I’ve been a bit delayed in my customary reflection on the past year and planning for a new year. Even so, in the past couple of weeks, an odd little theme has appeared in my thinking: “It’s all too much.”

A few years ago, I read a book by organizer Peter Walsh called It’s All Too Much and ever since then, that phrase pops into my head whenever I’m overwhelmed. As you know, that’s just what I’ve been feeling lately.  Instead of choosing a word of the year or setting out to remake my life, I’m just…not. At least, not right now. I’m not setting new goals or embarking on bold new adventures. I’m simplifying and downsizing.

I just have too much—books, food, possessions of all kinds, hobbies, interests and the wonderful blessing of friends and family relationships. I really am grateful for all that I have—I’m not complaining! I have, however, allowed my life to get out of hand. I have too much, and I try to do too much. Nearly every day I find myself putting aside activities that would feed my soul or work that really means something because I’m drowning in the sheer mass of life, much of it menial and unimportant.

So 2013 begins with a purge—of the physical (How many empty boxes does one need? Does this old radio even work?) as well as the non-physical. Activities I take for granted will be scrutinized—do they really need doing? By me? At this particular time or to that standard?

I don’t consider having too much a “real” problem. I’m not suffering heartbreak over it. I realize I’m lucky to be in this position when so many people around the world face true need. But getting rid of excess will help me appreciate what remains while cutting down on waste, guilt and chaos. Spending less time and money on what doesn’t matter will free up more for what does. I look forward to seeing what fills my life when the excess is gone.

What do you have too much of?