Saturday, August 06, 2011

the quest for simplicity

As you know, I'm all for keeping things simple.
That means having less stuff - physical stuff, mental stuff, emotional stuff, even spiritual stuff.
It also means being intentional about the things, people, experiences, that accumulate going forward.

But I wonder - can this go a step too far? is all about really paring down your possessions.  But I think he's missed a pretty crucial point.
 Sure we only need one chair to sit on.  We only need a one-person sized bed.  We really only need one knife and fork for that matter.

The argument goes, according to Dave and his ilk, that when one lives a transitory life (the roving author, the travel guide et al), one can manage with the contents of their backpack.  So good so far.
But the reality is that for most of us, we need a place to call home.  We can't afford to live in hotels.  In fact we probably have no desire to do so.  So that even if we only own 100 things (and this guy takes some poetic licence with that concept), we are still going to need to use a whole lot more than that.

Which means, doesn't it, that we will need to borrow those things from someone else? Whether that be by way of renting them, making use of public ones (hardly likely in the event of a bed or dining table!), or using the ones currently owned by others, we still can't get away from the fact that someday, somewhere, we are going to need more than those 100 things.

And whilst the idea of 'where-ever I lay my hat'' may sound appealing I think it has left out one really REALLY important consideration.

And that is, what about people?  The best way to nurture those we love is to spend time with them.  Which mostly means real human contact - consistently and constantly.  Not so easy when you live out of a suitcase.  The novelty of perching on someones single bed, eating every meal out of the same bowl is going to wear off pretty quick (trust me, I've been there!).  I accept that hospitality is about people not places, but transit lounges and cafes are not sustainable when it comes to building trust and longevity into a relationship of any kind.

Sure, have as little 'stuff'as possible.  Strive to be kind to the earth.  Be responsible with money.  Think how much more time you will have with less things to be concerned about.  But don't make the mistake of paring your relationships down to the bare minimum too.  Because they really can't survive on next to nothing.

1 comment:

Broot said...

I agree. That's why I haven't taken on the 100 things challenge. I'm still in the "less things to dust, less things to clean, only keep things that put a smile on my face" mode. :)