I bet you thought this title was a mistake, right? Everyone knows all we need is LOVE…not less!
Well, stay with me here and consider taking an overview of your life, where you’re living right now, and where you’re going.
Chances are if you are 70 years old or older, retired and in relatively good health, you are beginning to think about downsizing from your family home of many years or you are in the throes of doing it, or you have already made the move.
Whichever it is, you probably have stuff, all kinds of stuff, in piles being sorted, or in boxes waiting to be unpacked or stored or given away, or in containers being hidden until you can organize it or figure out what to do with them!
Why do I think this about you? Because It’s true about me! We are in this together…it’s The American Way: the unbelievable, overwhelming accumulation of stuff. It might even be the #1 First World Problem, judging from what I know about landfills!
Consequently I seem to be a magnet for articles, books, Ted Talks, reports and studies addressing “de-cluttering”, “living simply” or “minimalism”. It seems to always be on my mind. I google the topic and search for clever ways to organize excess stuff that will make me feel like I live simply and uncluttered. I am forever sorting through papers and stacking magazines, clearing off the kitchen counter, etc. etc.
Google the word “clutter”. There are how-to books galore on this subject, as well as services that provide guidance and even consultants who will come into your home and declutter for you!
And always in the back of my mind is how to eliminate all the excess stuff NOW so my family won’t have to do it when I die! One thing I’m sure of, my kids and grandkids don’t want any of it…I’ve already asked them, several times!
Then there’s the Christian teaching that comes into play for me, adding a good measure of guilt, “…if you have two coats, give one to your sister who is in need” and also when Jesus instructed followers to not “lay up treasures on earth where moth and rust corrupts, but instead lay up treasure in heaven…” In other words, fill life full with compassion, kindness, gentleness, patience, generosity, love…instead of material goods.
Defining or exposing the problem is easy. What to do about it is the real challenge.
Many years ago I helped a friend sort through her family home because her mother was unable to manage it any longer and had been admitted to a nursing home nearby. We sorted 50 years of accumulated stuff until we had left only what would fit into one small closet, one 6-drawer chest and a small 2-drawer desk in her mom’s new living space.
This experience was a powerful life lesson for me. I realized that life begins with nothing and ends with nothing, nothing of material value, that is.
I look around me now, in this Gran Finale stage of life, and wonder if I minimize the clutter, the excess, just keep what I need to live my life well, how much space would I create for the pursuit of what’s really important, the eternal spiritual (heavenly) stuff…the stuff about which I want my legacy to be?
If I minimize the clutter, and the care and concern of it, I most probably would have more energy to be more patient with those around me each day, have more time to be more intentional in showing love and giving compassion, and eliminate my preoccupation with tasks of maintenance, upkeep and organization.
We need very few material possessions. I learned from downsizing my friends mother that less is more when life is truly simple… less to maintain, less responsibility, less burden, less complicated.
We often hear the cliche “Never settle for less”, probably meant to encourage one’s self worth and aspirations to fulfill one’s dreams. Instead it gives encouragement to over endulge, spend more than we have, and/or be discontent with what we have. It’s a popular marketing slogan and has been used to feed a sense of privilege and entitlement. “I deserve more”, “I’m worth more”, “I can have it all.”etc.
But for this Vibrant Old Woman, in the final chapter of my story, I’m settling for less! Clear the clutter! Make more room for the stuff that really counts.
How about you? What’s your take on “less is more” and clearing out the clutter?