Simple Living Ain't So Simple
Simple Living Ain't So SimpleErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
My family and I moved recently. We went from the heart of Indianapolis to the northern suburbs, something which did not excite me. I don't know what I hated more, leaving our little urban dwelling, or loading and unloading two truckloads of stuff in 36 hours.
Despite my stabbing back pain, I think it was the leaving our house that hurt the most. I made sure to voice this opinion several times in the weeks leading up to our moving.
"You know, for a supporter of the party of change, you sure whine a lot," said my wife.
"That's not true. I'm all about change," I said, folding my arms.
She pointed at my pose. "You haven't changed that. You still pout."
"Whatever." She went off to pack more stuff.
We've been in Life Simplification mode for several years. We've moved three times in three years – something I haven't done since college – as a way to scale back our cost of living and the amount of stuff we own.
We decided to do this after my wife, ironically enough, purchased a number of books on living simply. Four years ago, we had a sizable house in northern Indiana that was jammed to the gills with books, toys, clothes, and half-finished projects I swore I'd fix "next month."
"Next month" was nine and ten years long, in some cases.
"When are you going to repair the broken cabinet we saved from that store?"
"Next month." That cabinet had been sitting in the garage for six years.
"What about that pile of plywood you said you were going to turn into CD shelves?"
"Next month." That pile had sat in the garage for four years.
"But you're fixing the cabinet next month."
"I'll do it right after I finish the cabinet."
We sold, donated, dumped, and eliminated at least a third of everything we owned, including the cabinet and gave away the plywood.
As the Champion of Change, I pouted, whined, stomped around the house, and voiced my displeasure at the upheaval. But it didn't matter. We moved to a house in Indianapolis' northeast suburbs and barely fit. After 18 months, we decided to move closer to town.
"We need to get rid of more stuff," my wife said.
"What do you mean 'we,' Kemosabe? I got rid of a bunch of stuff last time."
"Yes, and now we have to get rid of more."
"Why? The new house is bigger than this one. If anything, we need more stuff."
"We don't need more stuff," she said. "We're trying to simplify, remember? Simple living?"
"I simply don't care."
I had no vote in the matter, and had to get rid of more stuff. More books, clothes that shrunk in the wash, old toys, and things that only had a little sentimental value.
"Do you think I should keep these crocheted pot holders your dead great-aunt gave you 10 years ago?" my wife asked.
"Do you use them?"
"Pitch 'em," I said.
"Do you still need these writing books?" she asked.
"I haven't read them yet."
"You haven't?! You swore you'd read them when we bought them."
"I've been busy. Living simply is hard work." Whiny pouting 1, voice of reason 0.
"Bull. Read 'em or pitch 'em."
"Be sure you do."
Yada yada yada, I thought, but knew better than to say out loud. (You learn a few secrets after several years of marriage.)
We managed to fit everything into the new house with some space to spare, and spent a year in it, when we decided to look for an even smaller place up north.
"We have to get rid of more stuff," my wife said again.
"This is starting to sound like a bad joke," I said.
But we managed to get rid of at least half of what we owned. I know this because we now live in an apartment half the size of the house, but we have plenty of space. And while we don't have a big garage, I've managed to make a little space for a small workshop and a place to get my Weekend Guy fix.
All in all, we've simplified enough that we're living in a space that, 50 years ago, would have been plenty for a family our size. I think we've finally achieved that simple living we've been working toward all those years.
I still haven't read those writing books though.
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