“Simple is good.” – Jim Henson
This year has been simultaneously painful and whimsical, ridiculous and rewarding. I have seen myself at my worst and my best. I have re-conquered demons I thought were dead and gone, I have looked God in the face through the eyes of those most unknown and insignificant. It has been a year of firsts, but with those firsts also come lasts. But all of this lofty reflection comes from grown-up revelations about life. In my life, I’ve come in, sat down, made myself comfortable. It only took twenty-five years. Now that I have had the chance to look about the place, I realize: there is just too much.
I say this with dual meaning (as most things I say). There is too much materially. There is too much psychologically. I also say this to a dual audience. I have too much. Chances are, you do too.
Not that I know you. Even if I know you, I don’t know you, know you. You know.
But I do feel like I know humanity, at least in slight glimpses. I know what humanity does. Humanity hordes. Humanity collects. Humanity covets.
About this time last year, my husband and I started looking at a new house. We really wanted to move back to Nashville, to live in some upscale condo, and to be urbanites. Truth be told, we could afford it. We also looked at buying a bigger house in general. Mind you, we are two adults and a dog, currently living in a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, two car garage home. Two people… wanting something bigger and better. My parents didn’t have a three-bedroom home until they had three children, who were 12, 11, and 9 by that time. While the housing market slump kept us from making a move, I wonder if I would have been content with a bigger or better home a year from now.
Now, with a baby on the way, I realize just how much stuff I have to deal with. I also realize how hard it has been to surrender it to make room for someone who will soon be the love of my life. My husband and I have had “discussions” about which room the baby will have, since each of our spare bedrooms has been claimed as a personal space by one of us. Regardless of rooms, there are bags and bags and stacks of things that will have to go, and I second-guess with every decision. Besides the material things, there are the social and psychological needs that I am having trouble letting go. I want to take a year off from work, but my pride wants to stay and continue my professional path. I want my young friends. I want my young body, clothes, carefree lifestyle. I want…
I know I am not alone. As I’ve noticed this in myself, I’ve tried to make changes. Unfortunately, it is an unpopular path. I made the mistake of commenting on a social networking site one day about the ridiculous-ness of a family of four driving around an eight-passenger vehicle. Especially when the father has a separate vehicle and rarely partakes in the monstrosity. The retaliation I received was downright defensive. As usual, I cowered under the pressure, apologizing for my opinions. This was a mistake. It is a logical fallacy to conclude that because you think you have to transport your toddler’s entire nursery everywhere you go, it is mandatory. The lengths we go to pacify our dependents or satisfy our own grandiose desires are grotesque.
I’ve learned a great deal about myself this year. I’ve learned it’s time to clean house, and it’s a big enough house as it is. I’ve learned I don’t have to be and do everything to be and do everything. I’ve learned the important things in my life don’t require as much from me as I lead myself to believe.
And I know I’m not the perfect example of a simplified life. There is more I can and want to do: plant my own food, learn a craft or trade I can share, give more away, keep less. But I’m going to try to simplify because it just might clear the way for me to see that which I don’t want to miss. And yes, if you visit sometime soon, my nursery may be filled to the brim with stuff. I can’t make my family think like me. But I can promise, when we can, my child will learn how to give his or her stuff away.