In the last two weeks, there has been a message I’ve been hearing that is sticking with me, and that I’m working on putting in to practice.
I volunteer as a lector at St. Monica’s in Santa Monica, which means that once or twice a month I do one of the Bible readings, or I read the Intercessions (prayers). I’m part of the processional/recessional at the beginning and end of Mass, and I also get a front row seat as a bonus :-). I enjoy being part of the celebration, and I appreciate that I can use my public speaking skills to enhance the message delivered at church.
A few weeks ago, after one of my readings, I got to hear Father David talk about the importance of “pruning the branches” when growing fruit-bearing trees, or rose bushes. Though it may seem like you are removing something that is living, and that it may be easier to let things continue on as they have on their own, in the long run the plant and its fruits will be much better if extra growth is cut back. In the context of what is happening in each of our lives – we may feel busy, overwhelmed, and not in control, but if we take the time and make the hard decision to prune things back, in time we will be left with a plant that is much healthier, and fruits/flowers that are more plentiful and beautiful.
I regularly read Brad Feld’s blog (he’s a VC, entrepreneur, and fellow MIT alum), and a few days ago he dealt with the same topic, but in the context of his home computer network. He had pieced together various parts of his home network since 2006, and while each part had a purpose when first added, the purpose and function of each was no longer obvious in the sum. In troubleshooting a slow/non-functioning network, he ended up removing everything and replacing it with one piece of hardware that worked perfectly. Feld suggests that we look for the clutter in our lives that slows us down, and that really doesn’t need to be there, and then get rid of it.
So as we enter in to a few weeks of holiday time with our family and friends, and take a break from the usual day to day activities, think about what in your life you should prune away, and that will allow you to focus on the things that matter the most.