10.03.2011

Simply Living: Day 3: What do I Deserve?

Perhaps one of the hardest things about simplifying life is embracing the concept that less is more.  What I have found in the last two moves we have made is that I sometimes often say to myself  " I forgot we had that" or even worse, "I didn't know we owned that!"  One of the governing principles of simplifying my life has been determining if something brings me joy ( I expand this a bit, to include the question: does it bring me ease? For instance, I don't love food storage containers, but they do bring me ease by storing food and cutting down on paper waste so in a round about way, it brings me joy).  American culture tells us we need, need, need, and I find even I am not immune to obtaining things because they are "needful" things rather than because they bring me joy or ease. Obtaining for the sake of ownership isn't a lifestyle that imbues gratitude, instead it cultivates entitlement.  "You deserve _______" is a phrase I hear often in general conversation, and I find it makes me very uncomfortable.  I don't actually enjoy contemplating what I deserve unless it's in contrast to the great many gifts I have received. I know me.  I know there aren't words that genteel people should read that accurately depict what I deserve.

I believe it's better, instead, to limit our "stuff" to what we love, and what we actually use. I don't believe I have an unreasonable attachment to material things, but I do enjoy walking around my home and fondly looking at what it contains, because it either expresses a bit of who we are as a family, or because it brings beauty and enjoyment to our lives.  I am being brutally honest as I consider each item we have...do I love it? Do we need it because it is useful to our purpose here?  It is appalling the bags and boxes and piles of things that do not meet these two simple criteria. They are fillers and drainers: filling up that which could be filled with something so much better, and draining away time, peace, joy and life with their silent, looming presence.

This process of shedding things is new to me, and I don't begin to claim any sort of expertise, but what I have learned - and what continues to surprise me - is how much more enjoyment I gain from the items that do remain now that they are not overshadowed by the things I don't.  Little bits of joy are surfacing everywhere now that they are unburied from our "needful things." Gratitude overwhelms me every where I look because what I have is so much, so undeserved, so wonderful. I can see it now, now that there is so much less of it to see.

2 comments:

Maria said...

I have thought alot about simplicty in the last few days. Especially as it relates to contentment -- ugh... my theme. On which I finally started writing about. Go look.:-)

Pattie said...

I love hearing your thoughts about this. I found myself getting stressed over my husband bringing home new furniture(bookshelves and a nightstand for one daughter) for this larger home, but his heart was in the right place, we do need it to keep things off the floor, and we don't have to keep it in our next move if we don't want to.