Where Do Messages Come From?

The Holy Land for Holy Week (Jerusalem, September 2014)

It’s a good question to mull over on a rainy Sunday afternoon. First, let me answer the question: Where did this question come from? I recently watched a YouTube video by The Minimal Mom called “The Silent To-Do List“. If you’re an aspiring minimalist, it’s worth the watch. (I plan to use the “filter” in my next round of decluttering.) If not, then here’s what I want to consider today.

She says that Fumio Sasaki, in his book Goodbye, Things, states that every single material item in our house is sending out a message to us. His proposal is that as the things are telling us to do something, they are adding to our to-do list.

So we are carrying around this subconscious to-do list. She adds that as she has simplified her home, her silent to-do list has gotten shorter. This makes sense to me and has been my experience. I was ironing in my foyer as I listened, and taking a quick look around I “heard” many messages. I jotted them down along with their potential sources.

  • the red cooler, “Hannah needs to wash it”
  • the mesh, stuffed animal hammock, “I need to hang it”
  • cabinet fillers, “I need to finish the laundry room project”
  • broken hutch door, “I need to fix it or get it repaired”
  • dining room blinds, “They need to be fixed”

I realize that this is how I actually come up with many ideas for my physical to-do list. But how much of a burden do I put upon myself with the silent to-do list? Sure, I often write things down believing that it clears my head. But I’ll bet those messages keep on coming whether or not I’ve written them down. Why do my lists seem so long? Am I overextended? Do I procrastinate? Am I a perfectionist? Do we have too many possessions? And I cannot ignore the fact that I don’t believe inanimate objects are capable of messaging. So where are these messages coming from?

My first possibility is me. They are my thoughts. This appears to be confirmed by information I received from my husband while explaining the concept to him. I found out that we get completely different messages from the same object. A pile of napkins on the table might tell me that I need to put them away in the drawer where they are kept. But they may tell him that he should buy a napkin holder. I couldn’t tell if he was serious or not, but he said our kitchen is telling him that it needs more things on the walls and more doodads. So while I’m hearing that we need to simplify, he’s hearing that we need to buy more.

Can I conclude that we are giving ourselves these messages? I don’t think so. I remember hearing in a talk by Fr. John Hardon called Temptation/Inspiration that our thoughts are never entirely just our own. I believe this to be true. Our minds are never operating alone, but under the constant influence of intelligent forces outside of our minds and wills. Ultimately, they all come from one of the two types of spirits.

This brings me to the second possibility. The messages are either from the Holy Spirit or the evil spirit. And because I’ve come to the end of my writing time, this is a satisfactory answer to me for now. Practicing the discernment of spirits will help me to recognize the sources of my inspirations and those thoughts I hope to reject. Holy Week is here. I will try to be more aware of my thoughts and spend more time in prayer. And to help, I will limit the messages I am hearing from external sources by culling my to-do lists, paring down possessions, and fasting from media. Have a Blessed Week!

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