So this summer, we went on a road-trip. We travelled around the UK visiting lots of friends and family and staying in many lovely and different places ‘back at home’. Reconnecting has been truly lovely – great fuel for the soul, filling the heart, the mind (and just a little too much for the stomach too, on occasion , I’d suggest!)
There are two main observations from our trip:
Firstly, that everyone does ‘it’ differently. Everyone has a different way of living their lives. No one way is right or wrong, and the variety is wonderful!
And secondly, there is so much stuff. Everywhere. Just ‘stuff’ – material stuff – everywhere. In the shops, for one, endless amounts of everything and then variously, in people’s houses.
In our home abroad, we’ve spent the last two years living an experiment.
We have actively attempted to live as simply as possible. That’s to say that we have attempted to acquire as little as possible that is ‘superfluous to requirements’.
In truth, there are certain items that are not among life’s essentials – a guitar, for instance, a ping-pong table another. Both of these ‘suggested examples’ may be considered to be non-essential life items…unless you happen to be a musician or a world champion at table tennis.
We are neither, and yes, of course, we have both of these things, but entertainment is essential, and a tv actually isn’t. And so we don’t have one of those.
In the absence of a telly, we have quite wide range of entertainment sources – cards, puzzle books, backgammon… although on the hearty-front none of them require electricity; just brain, or body, power of some description.
(Ok, for sure the ping pong table is an extravagance…. but it is brilliant for parties and visiting guests!)
Back to the point. It’s not particularly easy to minimise since it happens to be incredibly easy to accumulate serious amounts of the afore mentioned ‘stuff’.
Thus, living minimally takes effort. Active effort to ascertain what we really need to maintain a healthy, but not exuberant quality of life, and it also requires a regular sift through the inevitable accumulation! The papers and packets and boxes and so on and so on – and to process the dead matter appropriately.
Living minimally is not the same as living frugally though, just to be clear. It isn’t a case of if it’s not abundant, then it’s scarcity. There’s enough for what we need, and there’s plenty of what we use regularly. In fact, I love a good stock-up of those things that we use merrily. I just won’t keep hold of things that definitely don’t serve a purpose…the ’just in case’ items. That’s what feels different about it. For me, at least.
It’s not to say that we’ve got all of the answers! And there’s definitely a happy medium between sparse and cramped, but we have been conscious about this time living in a home away from home.
The abundance of stuff
The abundance of all of the stuff surrounding us brings up questions for me because I wonder whether we’ve substituted an abundance of many other wonderful things, such as physical space to manoeuvre, head space to be creative and air to really breathe…with so many material items.
What has struck us about our travels this summer is how much we’re possibly all sinking underneath such mountainous piles of ‘stuff’. Our tendency of accumulating stuff is facilitated perfectly by the extraordinary proliferation for material consumption presented to us on every single corner. Shops full-to-bursting with a multitude of items that no one really needs and that are mostly not desired.
We seem to be being weighed down with the sheer volume of stuff surrounding us, filling up every inch of our living space. It’s extraordinary.
It’s just an observation, as ever….it’s not a judgement. It’s just that accumulating stuff is so incredibly easy to do…