Monday, August 25, 2008

One Size Fits All?

Our internet connection has finally been re-established, just in time for another guest post from Douglass St. Christian, on a topic near and dear to my heart.


There are thunderstorms circling around Perth County this morning.  I have soup - Elvina's cabbage with a bone from Moses's ham - slowly bubbling in my crock pot, a sure cure against rain.  The news today is about downsizing - Bell Canada and GM, this time.  Size seems to be everything - downsizing, smartsizing, this-sizing and that-sizing.

And for some reason I am reminded of the Buddhist notion of Right Living and wonder just what the right size is.  Now, it is easy to think small when we think about the best size for our lives, but for me, that seems one dimensional.  Instead, I like to think of right-sizing as having at least three aspects, each of which connects with and sustains the other.

Now Sizing - what are our needs and wants for today and the immediate future?  This one is easy to think about and to think better and smaller.

When Sizing - this is longer-term thinking.  Not what our needs and wants are today and tomorrow, but next month and next year and so on.  We too often live as if today were all we need to concern ourselves with.  Thinking ahead gives our right sizing a head start.

Then Sizing - this one is tricky, and I am not even sure I know exactly what I mean.  We are each of us embedded in both a journey to some future and a journey out of our histories.  For me, right sizing needs to not lose sight of the connections we have with the past. 

A simple example: I have a been moving my grandmother's dining room table for at least three decades.  The right size for my house includes room for that table to be used, visible, there as a reminder of the connections I come out of.  Today it is a reading table in our living room.  That is its right size, at least for now.

I keep coming back, in my own life, to wrestling with the puzzle of living the right sized life.  Right in the footprints I leave, right in the ripples of consequence for those around me and those to come, and right in its connections to where I am from.  As Thich Nhat Hanh and Daniel Berrigan put it 3 decades ago, "the raft is not the shore".  It is the journey that matters, the journey is all there is.  Finding the right size for you is just one more turn in that journey.

Until next time...



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