My life changed the other day when I was eating breakfast – by accident I chose something different... and out of choice I didn’t sit down at my Mac.
But first an uncomfortable reality. Just because I think I’m pretty smart doesn’t mean I am.
Since my mid-teens I’ve always thought I was a fairly cool, intelligent kind of guy. I got reasonable grades at school... I was married to another student whilst at art college... after graduation I worked up to a senior design post at the largest independent TV company in the UK and worked on many programmes including the world famous “Coronation Street” soap opera which is now in its 50th year... and I have several children and grandchildren doing more interesting things than I did at their age.
But, despite being fairly intelligent, I’ve squandered many tens of thousands of pounds investing in junk... an accumulation of once desirable ‘things’ I thought I wanted but then never, or hardly ever, used, appreciated or looked at during the increasing length of time I owned them. A Freudian slip I almost made was to write, “the length of time they owned me,” but there will more on that angle another time.
To make matters worse, my spending on what turned out to be largely useless accumulated junk was usually at a time when I could least afford it... because I was overdrawn at the bank and running on a credit card.
*An interesting point - have you noticed that the word ‘credit’ includes the word ‘red’ and the three remaining letters in reverse spell ‘tic’ which is also UK English slang for credit? I’ve found out the hard way on a number of occasions that this isn’t a coincidence... it’s more of an implication. But it should be a warning!
Actually to be more honest with myself, I was not simply overdrawn – I was broke. And month after month my bank statements were printed in that warning colour of my profligate over-consumption... in red!
Here’s another reality – going in another direction – that most people unfortunately don’t even bother to find uncomfortable...
The world’s rapidly increasing population is consuming three times the amount our Mother Earth is able to supply and regenerate.
Much of this over-consumption is on useless junk... accumulation of once desirable ‘things’ we thought we wanted but then never, or hardly ever, used, appreciated or looked at during the increasing length of time we owned them.
So why not eat with a smaller spoon?
However, I’ve increasingly becoming more aware of this and like to think I’m reasonably careful nowadays. But life has been a roller-coaster. I’ve had a hard time many times since I gave up my well-paid job at the TV studios on my 30th birthday thirty-six years ago. I probably adopted a ‘minimalism’ lifestyle at the start of my ‘second age’ without knowing it because to my knowledge the word wasn’t a popular movement way back in 1974.
Roll on to 2010 and, in a pretty nondescript way, I’ve entered the ‘third age’ of my life. I have a generally healthy regimen... gave up smoking years ago, hardly drink, don’t go to bed late, and always wake, wash and dress before 5-00 am in the Spring and Summer and not later than 6-00 am in the Autumn and Winter. So far so good... but in a rather meaningless way. I feel that I satisfy myself but have always thought I had little to say to the wider world unless writing at length about my photography with some art, nature and travel added to the mix.
Then a couple of weeks ago one dark, pre-dawn, Autumn morning, I was preparing my regular breakfast of rolled oats, sliced banana, organic yogurt, a sprinkle of Sunflower seeds, small black grapes and a touch of local honey, when I accidentally grabbed a smaller spoon – the size you would eat a soft-boiled egg with – and began to eat.
For the first time in a long, long time I looked at and thought about that bowl of goodness... without plunging my usual much larger dessert spoon into the contents so they were gone in 60-seconds.
And that was at the same moment I choose to sit in a different chair at the opposite corner of the room to where my MacBook was sitting, open, glowing and inviting. I was also distracted enough to not check my overnight e-mails and surf the web to read about the latest rumour or photographic ‘must have’.
Then it hit me... not just between the eyes, but in my mouth where my tongue and taste buds started to experience – or rather explore because this was early days – the simple flavours of those ingredients being consumed in smaller qualities.
I savoured each mouthful by chewing every grain and piece of fruit on either side of my mouth until all the food was liquid and could be swallowed like a thick soup. I was drinking my food, and as a result my intestines and stomach didn’t strain and give me wind... and my bowels didn’t tell me to rush to the lavatory. Sorry to be so basic, but although I’ve always believed in the mantra, “We are what we eat,” I’m now also thinking, “We are how we eat.”
So by happening to “eat with a smaller spoon” I thought I’d eaten more than I had because the smaller spoon made the bowl’s contents look more than they really were. And, there were at least twice as many dips of that smaller spoon into the bowl... not that I’m greedy, mind you, but I was completely satiated.
That’s ‘minimalism’ at work!