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Tranquility Vs. Toil and Chasing after the Wind

In Ec 4:6, Solomon penned the following words: "It is better to have one handful with tranquility than two with toil and chasing after the wind."

See? Minimalism (or maximalism[1]) is NOT a new concept. It's a philosophic approach to life that's been around for a very long time (like more than 3,000 years).

Many years ago, I decided I wanted to model my life somewhat after the monks of Christian monasticism (specifically, the Trappists). The Trappists work about four hours a day, which allows them to support themselves and live sufficiently while devoting significant time to frequent, daily prayer, both communally and individually. The monks, in my estimation, epitomize those who have "one handful with tranquility."

Contrast them with today's typical American trades or professional person, who works (give or take) eight to nine hours a day. While they may have more material resources ("two handfuls") than the monks ("one handful"), they often lack the one thing the monks have in abundance that everyone wants desperately: "tranquility." In addition, their lives are often marked by "toil" and "chasing after the wind."

Tranquility (from, etc.): The state of being free from agitation (disturbance, turmoil) of mind or spirit; peace; steadiness and stability; quietness; rest; relaxed, easy breathing.

Toil (from Long, strenuous, fatiguing labor.

Chasing after the wind (from the Old Testament Interlinear): Grasping for air (or one's breath).

The above is why I decided years ago to cut way back on my daily paid work hours. It gives me more time to spend with those I love (God, family, and friends) and to pursue enriching activities like praying, meditating, serving, writing, reading, learning, and training. Sure, I have little material wealth, but, to be quite honest, do I really own the things I own, or do they own me? Usually, my answer is, "they own me." Given this, I approach my ownership of things in the following manner: The less I own, the less chance there is of my being owned by anything. For those things I do own, I don't really own them—God does. I just "borrow" them from Him on an as needed (and, at times, as wanted) basis. It makes life so much simpler and brings with it much less "toil" and "chasing after the wind."

God's peace...


  1. I prefer the descriptor "maximalism" over "minimalism." As a maximalist, I maximize my engagement in the things really meaningful to me by minimalizing (even eliminating) my attachment to things of little meaning to me.


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