Monday, July 02, 2007

Living Small

What an adaptable lot we humans are!

I was reminded of that on our recent trip which found four of us living cheek by jowl in a small, two room apartment. I don't know the square footage, but it seemed to be smaller that the combined area of our living room and dining room, which are not large in themselves. Not at all.

We managed quite well, the four of us. Even with the kitchen almost at the foot of our futon, when the girls got ready for work, we barely stirred. At night, when it was time for Mom and Dad to go to bed, they simply took their laptops, iPods, and books into the bedroom and managed quite well for an hour or two before they also conked out.

Not only do I find human adaptability to be impressive, but that particular living situation that we were in for three weeks also serves to remind me that we are rather consumptive critters. It seems to be in our natures to not just take what we need but what we want, and we tend to want an awful lot an awful lot of the time. We want monster homes and roomy vehicles and myriad treats and doodads, and the getting often doesn't seem to satisfy but causes us to want more.

The treats, such as the occasional trip, really do help to make life enjoyable, but how many do we need and at what cost, I wonder. In my mind the essential stuff of happiness is to be found in having sufficient for our needs, both physical and spiritual. Treats are good, but that's what they need to be — enjoyable extras and not staples of happiness.

We are quick to tell our children that too much candy isn't good for them, and it is this guy's opinion that the same applies to adult goodies. I think that many of us could make do with less, but I don't just think that. I also think that some of us would actually be happier living with less.

9 comments:

Dale said...

When I was a boy at home, treats were just that -- treats. Today, kids seem to expect (demand?) goodies every day and every evening. Chips, ice cream, candies, chocolate and ...

Mmmmmm. Chocolate. I feel an urge coming on.

Pam said...

Amen, AC. My husband and I feel exactly the same. I think that people, as they have more and do more, seem to need it all more to keep up the momentum. Gratification and contentment come from within, and without that, there will never be enough.

Bonita said...

I've never seen the kind of affluence that I see today. We are bombarded with toys and succulent images on TV, everything to the max. It boggles the mind to see the excess. Yet, here we are, my husband and I, sitting on the front porch in the evening, sharing the iPod. He has one of the earphones in his ear, I have the other in my ear. We snuggle. I never thought I'd succumb.

Gina said...

I totally agree, and I live in an area that glorifies overconsumption. You are what you wear, where you eat and live, and what you drive.

thailandchani said...

This is a great post! If only many more understood this.

I don't have any gadgets... live in a very small space... but have enough for food and other essentials (like books :). My life is actually quite content for the most part.



Peace,


~Chani

Cathy said...

The older I get the more I agree with your sense of less is more in our material lives. I long to simplify, simplify, simplify.

cat59 said...

Well, I just have to confess, I am one of the guilty ones. There wasn't much discipline growing up in my home. We were admonished not to eat sweets before dinner, but nobody enforced that much. However, DH and I do live within our means and we are facing having to learn to cut back on the things we do splurge on because he is thinking of retiring. Not that we live in great excess. We don't live in a McMansion, have only 1 iPod, 1 computer, and 1 vcr/dvd player. We only subscribe to basic cable and I just bought my first new car in 10 years. However, I really want to re-do the kitchen even though it is perfectly functional and we do seem to spend quite a lot at the grocery store for 2 people!

Anvilcloud said...

Cat59: From your description, I don't think you have anything to feel guilty about. It's all about balance, and good things are good, and we should enjoy them. Everything in moderation, eh?

Heather said...

Well said. I agree wholeheartedly.

On the way home from the mall tonight, while I listened to my daughter whine about all the things I wasn't buying her, I tried to explain to her that it was for this reason that I really don't like malls - they make us think we NEED more things. I doubt if she got it (she just thinks mom is stingy), but I hope that some day she does.