Day 153. Living Simpler

On Friday I wrote about how we often say we need something, when in fact we don’t.  We just want whatever it happens to be.  Or at least we used to.  Because fishbowlmore and more I’m sensing a change.  In people I know and also in me.

A fair number of you commented and generally we were all of the same mind.  Nobody’s spending irresponsibly.  One comment, from Cupcake Travels, reminded me of my own life, and how different I’ve become.  She mentioned, now that she’s moved to France, how much less ‘stuff’ she needs; and how liberating it is.

I’ve bought and sold a few houses in my time, and I went through this phase where nothing was big enough for me.  Absolutely ridiculous.  I remember going to see a HUGE, old, four-bedroom house on a HUGE lot.  As if that wasn’t enough, it had an enormous addition on the back.  True, it was a gorgeous family room, but I was one person.

Really, what was I going to do with all that space?  And when, exactly, was I going to take care of the lawns (front and back) and do all the gardening?

Thank God it was across the street from a hospital.  The thought of ambulance sirens all the time put me off in the end; and I didn’t buy it.

Then one day I was talking about houses to a colleague.  I was telling her how I wanted to move and really wanted a loft.  She did me a favour and told me about a 5,000 square foot loft she’d heard was going up for sale.  What was I thinking?  But I obsessed over it.  Until the angel who lives on my shoulder protected me from myself.  When it did go on the market, it was for $2.5 million.  So much for that.  Can you imagine cleaning 5,000 square feet worth of hardwood floors?

These days I live in an average-size, two-bedroom apartment.  The second bedroom is my office.  I prefer to write at Starbucks.  What does that tell you?  I could get by with less space.  Quite happily, I’m sure.

You don’t want to know about the kitchens I dreamed of having, but I’ll tell you anyway.  I’ve always enjoyed cooking.  And entertaining.  It goes without saying my fantasy kitchen had a Sub-Zero fridge and a Wolf gas range.  But did I really need a 48″?  Did I really need two ovens?  A freezer double the size of my linen closet?  Of course not.

Preposterous.  Again, the decision was taken out of my hands when my kitchen wasn’t big enough for either.  Neither was my wallet.

Maybe Martha Stewart got to me.  Or all the cooking shows I watched on the Food Network.  I guess I fancied myself a chef.  Couldn’t buy enough cookbooks.  Cooking magazines.  Mixers, blenders, food processors.  Whisks.  Knives.  Cleavers.  Woks.  Pans.  Pots.  Peelers.  Pounders.  Lifters.  Turners.  Squeezers.  Juicers.  Zesters.  Slicers.  Spinners.  I had them ALL.  Every gizmo.  Gimmick.  Accessory.  Accoutrements.

It’s not that I’m greedy.  Or stupid.  I don’t know what got into me.  I’m just happy I got over it.

Now I’ve gone to the opposite extreme.  I like take-out.  I’m happy to eat it out of the container, while I’m typing away on my computer.  For all the times I use my stove, I could store sweaters in there.

I no longer want all that stuff.  No interest at all.  Not ‘nesting’ any more.  I find myself NOT needing even more.

A New Yorker Magazine writer talked about his book, The Green Metropolis, at a breakfast I attended.  I sat there, listening to him explain how big cities are so much more environmentally successful than rural areas.  It’s because the people who live ‘in the city’ never drive.  He was right.  I had a 4-year old car at the time, with 14,000 kilometres (8,699 some odd miles) on it.  It came in handy when my mother was alive, after she stopped driving.  But after she passed, I rarely got behind the wheel.

You could still smell the leather when you opened the door.  I got rid of it.  Now I walk or take the subway everywhere.  Hail a cab.  Rent a car.  Or, if I just want something for a few hours, I rent a Zipcar.  Now that’s liberating!

The best decision I ever made.  Don’t miss my car at all.  It’s been about three years and I’ve rented a car or a Zipcar eight or nine times.

Even packing for a trip is different.  Used to be I’d take way too much.  Clothes in case it rained.  Clothes in case in snowed.   Clothes in case I went to fancy restaurants.  Jeans in case I didn’t.  Extras, just in case.  Shoes for this.  Shoes for that.  Sandals.  Boots.

No more.  Schleping all that luggage is no fun.  Neither are the fees airlines charge for it, these days.  I’ll bet I could go on a beach holiday for a month and take one carry-on bag.  Maybe I’d need a slightly larger bag for traveling somewhere in winter.  The clothes are bulkier and take up more room.  But I’d still take the bare minimum with me.

One of these days I’m going to pack it all in.  Sell it all.  Gather up my cats, my favourite books, computer, iPad, iPhone, camera and whatever clothing, shoes, cosmetics and related doodahs fit into a single suitcase — and take off for parts unknown.  Seriously.  I’m ready.  In fact I’m more than ready.

I’m craving a simple life.  Easy.  Just the necessities.  Free to come and go as I please.  Here today.  Somewhere else tomorrow.

Shall I let you know when I have the garage sale?

14 thoughts on “Day 153. Living Simpler

  1. Funny chatting abut just this last night with a girl friend… must be an age or time of life thing… enough is enough…but where to go? That’s the question we left hanging in the air…

    • I think age and time of life has a lot to do with it. And I also think, regardless of age, we’ve all had enough of excess. I have a long list of places where I’d go …

  2. One of the reasons it’s hard to decide where to go is all the ‘must haves’ our new environment must have. In going down the list we quickly learned that there is no such place as Utopia. In simplifying, though, recognize that you have gotten used to certain creature comforts and wouldn’t want to do without them.

    • Oh, I know. It’s that list of creature comforts that’s the toughest to give up. But I’ll bet giving some of them up is really, truly liberating. I never thought I’d last without a car, for example. I wouldn’t want one for free. But having said that, if I lived in the country or the suburbs or somewhere remote I’d have to have one. Where I live made that decision possible. I’m pretty sure there’s a few more I could do without, too. I’d love to live in Paris. A lot of things I take for granted here wouldn’t be available there. I wouldn’t care. It would be fabulous tobsail around the world. I know people who have done that. You have to make a ton of ‘lifestyle’ adjustments. Not one of them have ever regretted it. I think you’d be surprised at what you’d be willing to do without, under the right set of circumstances. That’s what I’m exploring now.

  3. I completely agree. We’re having our loft converted so we had to empty it!! I’ve gone through so many boxes that it’s made me realise I need so little to be happy.
    The simple life is what I crave and if that means going without then that’s just fine with me. If I want to buy something I think long and hard about where it will fit in my home. If there’s no place (or if its going to need dusting!) then I don’t buy it.

    • Exactly. I’ve got some stuff in storage. I can’t even remember everything there. So how badly do I need it if I don’t miss it? Not! Good luck with your reno.

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