For a brief time here recently, I was the proud “owner” of about 4100 square feet of space (“owner” is in quotes because ownership is actually, legally and technically, kind of a complicated term. It often feels like you don’t really “own” anything). But I bought a house, and was still paying rent on an apartment, and a storage unit, and a moving truck, so for that moment in time, it was all “mine.”
And thankfully so, as I mentioned in a previous post, as the air conditioning went out at the house, and it was 100+ degrees outside.
So we packed up an air mattress and a portable crib and a real crib and an extra mattress, along with a few other minimal essentials, and headed back to camp out at the apartment. No TV. No computer. No furniture. No microwave.
And you know what? It was actually kind of nice.
It reminded me of one summer, which I may have discussed here before, in grad school. We were living down in Dallas, but I got a 10-week job up in Missouri. We put our stuff in storage down there, borrowed just a couple of essential items from friends and family here (bed, card table, chair), and sparsely furnished an apartment out there. And it was sparse. Almost monastic.
And I loved it.
There was a clarity and a simplicity that I grew to cherish. There is no clutter when there is nothing to clutter. It is hard to lose things when you only have ten of them. Nothing to organize because ten things can’t get disorganized. We were operating at a bare level of functionality and it was very, very nice (for me; I don’t thing everyone shared my sentiments).
It was the same this time over at the apartment. The most different were the evenings. With no furniture to rearrange, no channels to flip, no internet to surf, you talk, you snack, read a little, and then go to bed early.
Why can’t we implement more of that in our “normal” lives? Why do we accumulate all this stuff, when it is the lack of stuff that makes us happy? Stuff just stresses us out, demanding all our time and energy and money and concern. Without stuff, so many fewer burdens. So much more free time to think and feel and be.
No, I am not suggesting we all renounce private ownership entirely and formulate some artsy sharing hippie commune (unless anyone is interested, in which case that is exactly what I am suggesting) (I especially like to imagine what the library would look like in such a place, if I and all my closest reading friends put all our books in one central place and just read and thought and shared and discussed to our collective hearts’ content). But it was eye opening anyway. For me.