Paring Down

Old Woman Peeling Potatoes

Old Woman Peeling Potatoes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love the principles behind the various living simply movements.  Think about it, in our frenetic day to day lives, doesn’t the idea of slowing down and simplifying sound tempting?

Not in an extremist way, I have no interest in renouncing technology and indoor plumbing;  living completely off the grid, but just saying enough is enough, enough is good enough, I’m going to value time to breathe and enjoy. I’m always interested in the stories of people who decide to do this, sell their second and third cars, their McMansions, and move to adorable, solar powered log homes in Montana, or Maine or Idaho.

1919 Indoor Toilet Ad

1919 Indoor Toilet Ad (Photo credit: dok1)

Except, reading these blogs, how to guides, and articles, these people all seem to have started off with significantly more than they need. And their new homes always have enough room for comfortable furniture, a working garden, room for all who live there and the stuff they continue to value. How does one decide to live simply in the city with a family and limited budget? Is it possible to make it a choice, when so many “no’s” are out of necessity?

I’ve known/know a few who seem to, but they’re all either single or two people (couple or one adult with a child). None have significant, chronic medical needs. Their dry goods aren’t sitting out on kitchen counters because the cabinets are crowded with medicines and supplements.

I like the idea of getting rid of unnecessary stuff and clutter.  It’s the battle of clutter here, because there just isn’t a place for everyone’s stuff.  But what is unnecessary?  My books? Bite your tongue, I need those! Not every book I’ve ever read, and over the past couple of years I’ve passed along at least a hundred, but what’s left are my companions, my solace when I’m feeling stuck or lonely or blue. I could replace them with an e-reader, but that would involve money to purchase the e-reader and buy the books–I already own!–electronically.

There are now 4 small boxes of stuff sitting in my living room from my mother’s apartment. One that’s waiting to be passed along. 3 small boxes from my mother’s life which includes memorabilia from my father and grandmother’s lives. I’d like to get rid of the big wall unit taking up space, but I’m not about to renounce TV either (yes, I do need to watch the Housewives), so that can’t happen until I can replace the old tube TV with one of the skinny hang on the wall things, and a smaller unit to hold the cable box, iPod dock, and Wii.  Money again.

And what about time? Where do these hours to enjoy life come from?  All those luxuries of modern living (many of which I don’t have), like a dishwasher or washer and dryer are luxuries because of the time they save.

Maybe living simply is a luxury itself, only meant for those who can do so as a choice.

What do you think?


Dollhouse (Photo credit: cliff1066™)