Sunday, June 27, 2010


Reid and I sat on a glider swing on the deck of a cabin for hours last weekend, perfectly content.  The mountains in the distance were beyond beautiful...and the only noise that interrupted our conversation was the occasional bird call.  The cabin itself was, by our estimation, approximately 600 square feet:  a bathroom, a shower area, a bed, a small sitting area and a double sided gas fireplace in the center.  It was a little light on storage, but we decided with a few minor modifications (a sleeping loft would let us trade that floor space for a small kitchen/eating area), it was really all we'd need.

I've never been much of a "stuff" person.  The TV tells me that hoarding is totally fashionable right now, but I just don't get it.  For me, I love the immediate gratification of clearing out a closet.  I get tremendous satisfaction from my annual Goodwill donations.   I literally sleep better when I've cleared the surfaces in the house and swept the floors.  It's like my whole psyche breathes a sigh of relief when the clutter's gone.  I live in a 1600 square foot house (a non-expanded 1950s ranch) and still worry that it's too much space because the basement is used somewhat sporadically.  My last Goodwill donation was 4 months ago and I'm sitting here itchy, because I know that there's more that could go...and I know that I'd feel better if I let it. 

After our conversation about living small, I sent Reid the link to The Story of Stuff.  I watched it again myself tonight and was reminded just how much more I could be much more I should be doing.  I remember to take reusable bags to the grocery store, but often forget about the one I carry in my purse when I need "just a few things" from the drugstore...  I'm not making enough use of the weekend Farmer's Market up the street.  I still don't have a garden planted at the house and I haven't started composting yet.  I could be making so much more progress!!

All this simplicity takes effort...and time...and energy -- the very things I'm typically lacking.  It's sad to me that we've developed a world that's designed to make sustainable, simplistic living more work than living irresponsibly.   But that, I suppose, is my challenge:  to figure out how to continue to simplify and improve as I go.  Much like parenting (and everything else), I'm bound to get it wrong sometimes...but I'll get it right sometimes too.

I told Reid tonight about my renewed guilt over my "stuff" habits...and we talked awhile again about simplicity.  I realized, though, as I looked back at the picture of the mountains...the picture I took from the deck of our cabin, wrapped up in a blanket in the early morning light...that despite my failings, I haven't lost sight of what matters:  the simple enjoyment of a mountain view...a quiet night...a warm blanket...and a long talk with my favorite person.  That is truly the good stuff.

1 comment:

jconwayhinton said...

Ah the pure joy of stuff! The funny thing about our cultural addictions is when asked to describe a dream life, the most simple goals roll out of most people's mouths and for the most part the dreams are devoid of stuff. An attempt in the right direction is so much better than denial or fence sitting, no guilt fair one you flow in good space.