The nobility of living with less

I just updated my status on facebook and it made me feel like writing about the topic.

I really do want to master this idea of “living with less” that seems to be everywhere suddenly. I stalk a few home decor and DIY websites and mommy blogs and this concept is everywhere. All of the gorgeously appointed living rooms that you see on these sites with their perfect balance between industrial furniture with warm accents and modern lines with vintage touches here and there and their extremely well curated smattering of coffee table books and houseplants all seem like no one could possibly live there because

where is all of their stuff!? I totally recognize and acknowledge that the vast majority of the shit I own is completely unnecessary and could be thrown away with very little impact on my life. Yeah, maybe I’d miss my decorative gold skull for a week or so but in the long run, no big deal. Does every room of my house need no less than two bookshelves full of old books (which I love) and knick knacks whose sole purpose is to look nice? No, of course I don’t, but hell if those things don’t make my life more aesthetically pleasing.

As a mom, it almost makes me feel like a failure to feel the need to have so much stuff. I really would like to go through my house with trash bags and toss 85% of the stuff I have into the bags and donate it and never look back. I’m currently working on doing just that, but maybe on a smaller, more introductory scale. I want to dip my big toe into the “living with less” pool and see if I like it before I send my precious knick knacks plunging into the deep end.

I can admit that I am pretty aesthetically motivated. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t dye my hair a new color or chop on it every three months. I would be able to walk through the clearance aisle at Target without emerging with half a basket full of pointless stuff that I’ve justified buying because hey, “it’s only $20.” (Really, I think it may be a sadder statement about the value of a $20 bill these days than about my impulsive collection of random things and impeccable skills when it comes to justifying things.)

looks nice, but where’s your stuff, bro?
(photo courtesy of apartment therapy)
I was thinking about this yesterday, though. What is it about living with less that seems so damn noble? Is it some kind of statement about what you value in life? Just because you don’t have a whole lot of crap littering the table tops and shelves of your life doesn’t mean you’re living a somehow more enriched or fulfilled life. Maybe your only real possessions are a sofa and an Xbox. I think my life with my overabundance of table lamps and embarrassing number of throw pillows is way more meaningful. I suppose my love of stuff makes me more materialistic than my lesser-burdened counterparts, but I don’t think of myself that way. The things that I’ve accumulated over the years add pleasure, but no meaning.
It does give me a certain amount of comfort to know that if my house burned down or we had to relocate suddenly with nothing but the clothes on our backs, I’d be okay with it. Hell, I’ve done it once already. Maybe that’s why the whole thing resonates with me so much. After grabbing two changes of clothes and the bunny stuffed animal I’ve had since I was four and leaving for what I thought was going to be a long weekend at best when we evacuated for Hurricane Katrina, but having that turn out to be the loss of our house, much of our stuff, and our entire way of life, I suppose I’ve started collecting things to comfort myself or try to replace the trinkets of my childhood. I don’t know.
Maybe I’m putting way too much thought into it. Writing this is definitely taking away from my furniture moving time. Time to get back to my housework. I’ve got so much stuff to dust and rearrange.

2 thoughts on “The nobility of living with less

  1. No one lives in the house in that picture…where do they set their drinks? Lol

    Watch the George Carlin routine on YouTube about “stuff”.

    On another note, I cleaned out a room the other day in my house. 19 trash bags later, it looked great. It was way easier than I’d originally thought to part with all the crap.

    • That’s the problem. I know it would be easy to toss all this stuff into a trash bag and never look back, but I like my stuff. And in the meantime, I keep adding new stuff. I have a problem.

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