Tuesday, October 18, 2016

When Less Is More

I have undertaken my second round of downsizing, the first being two years ago when I went from a roomy two bedroom apartment in a large town to a smaller one bedroom apartment out in in the boonies. Now, after two years, I have come to the realization that along with downsizing my outer "stuff," I also downsized my "inner stuff."

One morning recently I went into my closet to pull out something to throw on so that I could get my day in gear. My hand immediately went to a comfy pair of yoga pants, a t-shirt, a pair of ankle socks and my sneakers. There was no thought involved other than what was clean, what matched (in case a discerning crow or barn cat happened by to judge my fashion sense) and what was comfortable for the tasks on my to-do list. Something made me step back and take a good look at the contents of my closet. I realized that I had not worn half of the clothes I had taken with me when I moved. Intrigued by this epiphany, I started going through drawers and closets and found the evidence to be more of the same thing. Then I got my coffee and went into my office area. Not wanting to, but knowing I had to, I pulled open the file drawers, looked into the bookcases, and knew beyond a doubt that a second round of downsizing was definitely in order. The other thought that came to mind was that of all the stuff I had gotten rid of two years ago, the only thing I had missed was one book that I had given away which I could easily repurchase, most likely in digital format which didn't take up any physical space. I had, it seemed, gotten along very well with a third of what I used to own, and rather than feel a sense of loss, what I had gained was more free time to pursue other things besides caring and finding places for all that unnecessary stuff.

So often we are so attached to our stuff because we think it defines us, or because we think we can't live without it. Who we are has nothing to do with what is "out there" and everything to do with what is "in there." I meditate more. I take more walks. I write more (that's a big one). I read more. I spend more time cuddling my cats. I spend less time dusting, washing, and rearranging. I reuse and re purpose more which helps me to leave a smaller footprint on the earth. Most of all, I feel freer.

This week the Internet went out again. Sometimes I think that Third World countries have better communications that I do here on this hill. At first I went into my usual tantrum of all the things that wouldn't get done. Then I slowed down, took a few deep breaths, and asked myself if I wanted to be stressed out or if I wanted to be happy. I chose happy. Then I asked myself what I could do that would be of benefit to myself and others while I waited for this latest electronic fiasco to pass (as it usually does if you wait long enough). The result was three bags of books cleaned out to go to the library for their monthly book sale and a  bag of clothes for the thrift shop. I am also slowly filling up a box with a variety of old vases, baskets and other stuff that has been decorating the inside of my cupboards instead of my apartment - after all, how many vases does one person need? The point is that I didn't die without the internet for a day, and I won't die from the loss of my books or clothes. I not only lived, but I found myself actually sitting down to read a book instead of Facebook and I remembered how good that felt.

What can you let go of? How much do you really need to be happy? And when is enough, enough? Food for thought. Enjoy the meal.

And so it is.