The Ultimate in Living Simply

Living simply seems to be as big a fad lately as Buying Local. There are countless television shows devoted to the–apparently–hideously awful tasking of ridding your life, your cupboards, and your closets of all the flotsam and jetsam of modern life. One gentleman has discovered the secret, for him at least, to living much, much simpler: he packed up his life into an RV. His story is interesting, undeniably. A twist on my own “cottage in the country fantasy,” where I have one small, cosy room that serves as kitchen, dining room, and living room, with a loft overhead for a bedroom. Key to this fantasy is the charming cottage decor and a large, wood-burning fireplace. I haven’t worked out how my husband and kids fit into this fantasy yet!

The author makes a particularly interesting point regarding vacations:

It’s interesting how much we enjoy vacation — even if we’re not going anywhere exotic. I know people who will go on mini vacations just by staying in a hotel in their own city! Why is that so pleasant?

I would argue that it’s because it requires us to leave most of our possessions behind. We bring only the few precious things that we need for that weekend. When we’re at home we’re forced to pay attention to, maintain, organize, clean, and interact with our massive collection of things-we-don’t-really-need. Vacation frees us from that.

While I would perhaps argue that there are many other reasons to enjoy a vacation, he does have an interesting point to make here: that our possessions, rather than providing us with joy, or at least usefulness, instead weigh us down and prevent us from enjoying life. Personally, I always think that I would love to pare down on my “things,” but every time I try to do so I wind up sitting in a pile of old letters, reading them, or mired hopelessly in trying to decide which decorative dishes I don’t want, and will the gift-giver be insulted if s/he doesn’t see his/her gift on display when they visit…

Of course, this process is exponentially more difficult now that children are in the picture. They collect more things, grow out of those things more quickly, and somehow the amount of attachment I have for a piece of clothing is inversely proportional the amount of time it was used. A sturdy winter jacket my son wore every day last winter? If it’s too small, it’s gone. That side-snap white shirt my daughter wore in the hospital that is exactly like the five I have saved from when my son was born, and which my daughter out-grew practically before we were home from the hospital? I can’t bear to part with side-snap tee #6, I just can’t bear it!

Let’s not even get into the scads of clothing that I promise myself I can fit into again, someday…never mind the fact that the clubware of my college days doesn’t exactly fit into either my work wardrobe or my playdates wardrobe…

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