Simplifying is ONE of the things I want to talk about today, but first can we all agree Henry David Thoreau’s philosophy does NOT apply to exclamation points? (Spoiler alert: I’m using extra today!!)
Punctuation aside, I’ve long been tempted to travel down Mr. Thoreau’s spare path. Then I remember Walden Pond probably required a lot of sweeping. Plus it may be difficult to get pizza delivered there promptly.
I’ve decided to overlook such negatives and also the fact that Henry David Thoreau left stiff-ish transcendentalist boots to fill.
(Gardening and Civil Disobedience? Let a girl catch up!!)
Anon, I shall trim the fat around here (figuratively, of course. I like a well-marbled steak). And to that end, let’s examine the aspects of my life where I might be a little cluttered:
….Children: Let’s face it. Shaping future contributors to society is a complicated task. I want to raise happy, healthy, generous teenagers who appreciate Modern Family and recite state capitals in alphabetical order. But in the interest of simplification, I’ll settle for teaching them to put their dirty socks directly into the hamper. Because if Phil Dunphy can pare life down to six keys, so shall we.
….Marriage: Who are we kidding? After seventeen years, we’re already simple. Bill likes chipotle flakes, Chardonnay, jigsaw puzzles and me. I like string cheese, Cabernet, HGTV and him. I think he’d agree there’s nothing much we need to cut. (Except maybe the puzzles. They take up counter space.)
….Friends: Old friends and new, Facebook friends and twitter; blog friends, friends who text, and friends who (whywhywhy) still try to connect by phone calls. But y’all? I can’t quit you. So I just won’t answer. Sorry, friends. Simplicity has taken me from Luke Warm to Ice Cold. (And also made me too fond of parentheses. Plus exclamation points!!)
….Writing: I revise the old and compose the new; help others edit manuscripts while dissecting my own. I work at this blog and craft posts, spewing my words across the internet. But I can’t stop this madness anon—although I could stop using random Shakespearean words. (Let’s keep this in the ‘maybe’ pile.)
…Housekeeping: Ha. Hahahahaha!! This one’s as easy as it gets. Cheers to lesssweeping and morepizzadelivery. Done. And. Done.
…Dogs: THEY STAY. (And sit!!)
To recap: I’m keeping exclamation points, Modern Family, friends who text, a furious writing pace, and my dogs. I’m cutting dirty socks, jigsaw puzzles, phone calls, anon, housekeeping, and cooking. (Sorry, well-marbled steak. I’m Ice Cold!!)
I know. It’s a lot to pare down. But the sacrifice brings me one step closer to the uncluttered heart of my true inspiration. And no. It’s not Henry David Thoreau.
It’s my grandpa. Knute Anderson.
Yes, this 93-year-old knows what matters and keeps life S.I.M.P.L.E. (But not in a way that means small-minded. He’s got the biggest brain and heart.)
He refuses to stop learning and remains curious about the world. He’s open-minded and embraces differences; never sidesteps an opportunity to grow or try something new. He’s a man who built a house with his father and also learned to email and Google before I did. (True story.)
Simply put, he loves his wife, his dog, his family; and every day he wakes up grateful for his freedoms and humble about his gifts.
His politics and religion embrace the Golden Rule and he can rock a joke, spin a yarn, and drive a golf-car like a pro.
This man spent last Sunday with all four of his great-grandchildren who are blessed to enjoy their singularly wonderful patriarch. When he turned ninety, these same kids conducted an interview about his life from 1919 through the new millennium. Each of them questioned him about being an immigrant (from Sweden!!), about watching history evolve beyond imagination, about becoming a journeyman of this earth. We recorded the session and hope to recreate it at his centennial celebration.
Until then, I’ll pause each January 13th to thank Knute Anderson: for his unfailing support and his lessons in joy; for teaching me to whistle and reading me Heidi; for inspiring me to simplify, simplify, simplify!!
Henry David Thoreau’s got nothing on you, Grandpa. (Except for maybe a prison rap.)
Happy Birthday, GGpa. Now and always.
And text me when you finally get your smart phone.
Grandpa steals a bite of Grandma’s sundae. Because when you’re the birthday boy and cute, you deserve hot fudge.
Fact: All Creatures Great and Small love Knute.
Grandpa and the ladies—my lovely grandmother, Reny; me (bending awkwardly); and my sister, Nancy. She got those long legs from Knute. Grrr.
P.S. And this is important: The K in Knute is not silent. It’s pronounced Kuh-Noot. Because when you’re 93 and cute, you deserve to have every letter in your name heard.
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Writing is a lonely business and I love to make friends along the way. (Plus, people online don’t know I’m in my pajamas and haven’t brushed my teeth.)