Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I had a nightmare

I had a nightmare that we were drowning in "STUFF". Actually I just couldn't find anything, including The Sprout who was lost in clutter. Nature Girl was lost in the expanding size of our house. Wild Thing was DROWNING in a room sized bathtub full of clothes that were weighing him down in the water. It was horrible.

Now this dream could have come about because of doing our taxes and searching for misplaced and coffee stained receipts. Or it could have come about as a result of my being behind on the laundry. Or it could be because today is Wolfville's annual "trash" day and over the last few days everyone in town has put everything they no longer want out at the curb and the entire Annapolis Valley has been dumpster diving here (I see this as a good thing btw). Or it could have been a great earth shaking end to Buy Nothing Month. Whatever it was, it had a pretty profound effect on me.

I have spent all day thinking about radical simplicity and having an abundant life, and what form could that take with my family?

I got out a measuring tape and measured all the spaces we use *all the time* in our house, wether they seem too big or too small. I included the insides of closets we use all the time, I included the space my washer and dryer need, but not storage space that is just storage space. For a family of 5 that sometimes expands to 7 (or 8 when my mom visits) we live in a modest house by most people's standards. It is 1200 square feet above grade and the basement has been renovated into living space too. It feels roomy to us. The kid's room echoes because it is so big and empty - 10x14 . Our room feels cramped with a massive pine queen sized poster bed, a crib, a dresser - 10x14.

You know how much of that we really use? 875 square feet.

It isn't efficient space, or well laid out, but that is how much we actually utilize. We're heating the whole thing though. We're paying for the whole thing though. We're cleaning and maintaining the whole thing though. We have to buy paint for the whole thing though. We have reshingle the whole thing though. We feel we need to decorate the whole thing

As I was folding and putting away the accursed laundry I wondered - why do we have so many clothes if they overwelm me like this?

You know what the result of Buy Nothing Month was for us? Absolutely no drop in quality of life, or "stuff". I didn't miss out on anything. There was one unfortunate side effect - we bought and ate more meat - stuff we never would have thought of but the money was there for - like a mountain of organic back bacon. We were gluttons, and you know, it felt gluttonous too. I didn't enjoy it.

I look at our lives and we aren't doing what we really want to be doing with our lives - and the main thing holding us back is the cost of housing - and the cost of having a house big enough to hold all our STUFF. I looked around to see if there was any financial gain in the STUFF, honestly if we had a giant garage sale we'd hardly get ANYTHING for all our STUFF. It just isn't worth that much! Meanwhile I agonize over giving away a box of books to the freecycle "cause I might want to read them again" and you know why *I* personally don't feel I could go live in a tiny house in the woods or on the beach - WHERE WOULD I KEEP MY BOOKS!!!!

I *do* feel as if I am being pulled down by an undertow of materialism. I'm having an affluence anxiety attack here!

So, I'm wondering what the next step is?

I signed up for a paperless May. Big words for an artist. Lets see how I do. Books are made of paper right?

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