Thursday, July 4, 2013

Living with less, and the pendulum

My friend Kelly Fineman has been downsizing in preparation for moving to a smaller home, and she has been posting regularly about the process. Somehow, so many of us, even if we're not wealthy, have accumulated "stuff" that we would now like to get rid of. Or at least reduce. The McMansion trend, and the storage-rental spaces that have been popping up everywhere, suggest that many of us have more physical baggage than we used to.

Kelly has been posting about the plans, decisions, and emotions that accompany the streamlining process. So I was already thinking about this when I read in Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea: "To ask how little, not how much, can I get along with. To say--is it necessary?--when I am tempted to add one more accumulation to my life ..."

Lindbergh is talking not only about physical stuff here, but about time-related stuff: the activities and obligations that fill our days. I really like what she says here because it reflects my experience of reality:

"The solution for me, surely, is neither in total renunciation of the world, nor in total acceptance of it. I must find a balance somewhere, or an alternating rhythm between these two extremes, a swinging of the pendulum between solitude and communion, between retreat and return. In my periods of retreat, perhaps I can learn something to carry back into my worldly life."


  1. I love this post, Jenn. Streamlining seems to be on my mind a lot, both in terms of physical stuff and obligations and activities. I find if I can find a home for the physical stuff, that helps (donations and the like). Finding a way to reduce the obligations and activities. . . that seems to be a bigger challenge. : )

    1. It's all a challenge--deciding what to let go of, deciding what to do with everything (where to file it or where to relocate it), when to say no and when to say yes. But at least we have opportunities--things to which we can say yes and no! :-)

      Happy streamlining ...