Tuesday, February 27, 2018

How Much Does One Need?

One of the great realizations on returning from training is how little I needed there - and how much I seem to have here.

Yes, I know - training away is a great deal like vacation in that you essentially rely on the output of others - those that clean, those that cook - and systems in place to manage the rest, like laundry rooms or showers/baths.  And of course it relies on the fact that one does not actually have to earn a living while one is away.  So in a very real sense, it is a sort of artificial environment.

But even within that artificial environment, there remains a kernel of truth:  I can get by with a great deal less than what I currently own.

Our home is approximately 2400 sq feet, not including a two car garage (223 sq. meters for my Canadian friends).  And it is full - pretty much completely (we are spared the spectacle of the outdoor storage unit known as the "the shed", which is really just a resting place for items you have no intention of every using and instead becomes a collection bin for spiders and rodents).  It is not "hoarder" full, but every room has a great deal of stuff in it.

To be fair, there is a rather large personal library that occupies a great deal of wall space (that would be mine).  And, just like any family, there is family memorabilia that one simply acquires and is here for the duration.

But for the rest of it - what we use periodically or even not at all at this point - there is the legitimate question of asking "why"?

Part of the focus of the materials of one's life is defined by what one does:  the workman has their tools, the farmer has their tools, the hunter has their weapons for killing and the tools for preparing, the cook the pots and pans, the swordsman their swords.  The narrower the focus both the more and the less one needs:  the more as one acquires additional expertise and skills (watch a woodworker or stone carver with their chisels:  who knew there were so many?), the less as other interests and activities fade and the materials that support them are no longer required.

The other focus is that of regularly moving the items no longer used on.  I suspect for many - at least for me- this a highly resisted activity:  every item we have represents an investment from ourselves or others, money and time we spent.  To just surrender them - even if we sell them for pennies on the dollar instead of just giving them away - somehow represents a "loss" to us, even we have not used the item for years and never intend to use it again.

Do I have an immediate response?  Not really - I am still trying to sort out my own life, to figure out what is remaining and what is staying.  But I am discovering one fact: the more time I am spending thinking about what I want my life to be focused on, the more I am finding that items I have held on to have less and less importance. And less importance, if I can hold onto the thought long enough, represent a willingness to cut the cord entirely.


Sol said...

I have had a very similar conversation with a friend who goes on holiday a lot. She comes back and when she does, the first thing she says is she needs to move to a bigger house. Now, I am no one to talk as we are serial movers, but we have done it to renovate and to be able to afford a house we would never of been able to in the first place. but that is a complete tangent. So my friend. Her house is rammed to the rafters. She cant find anything as there is too much stuff with out a real home, so it is lost in the ether and she goes and buys another 'thingamyjig' to replace the one that is somewhere in the house. lots of 'I cant take this house anymore, I am going on holiday'. I said you are going on holiday from your house? 'Yes, I need some space and hotels are nicer than here'. You do realise that your house isnt too full you just have too much stuff... I said. And the light bulb went on and she has not got her daughter helping her down size her stuff, she still has clothes from where her grandparents died and she had to clear their house. And she didnt know what to do with them. Rather than deal with it all, she took expensive holidays. Its a hard place to be in. A few years ago we had to go into storage, and I started to get rid of my books. Oh my word, that was hard. Some of them I just couldnt part with.

I completely get where you are coming from. Its a timely reminder to me to get rid of a few things.

ps I found you on Kymber and Jam's blog

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Hi Sol! Thanks for stopping by (and thanks for shout out to Kymber and Jam)!

I wonder if in fact returning from travel is a sort of golden time, the sort of time when we have a moment of perspective - which is probably wasted on most of us (me, at least).

I can understand looking at a house full of things and feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work to be done. The key - really the key to everything, I suppose - is to start by starting small. Get rid of one thing a day. Just start there. Then move to two.

I say this a someone that struggles with getting rid of anything.

And yes, if you read of me getting rid of my books, the end really has arrived.