Simplify Your Life: The Benefits of Lightness

With K's patient help, I spent two hours cleaning out my closet in our Nicaragua casa. I'd been putting off the job for two reasons. First, I prefer K's advice about what should go and what should stay. And second, because getting rid of old clothes doesn't feel like progress.

But after unloading about 15 pairs of pants, 30 shirts, and a dozen pairs of shoes, I have to report: It felt good.

It felt good to give all those good clothes to other people who will put them to immediate use. It felt good to make my getting-dressed decisions easier. And it just felt good, in some primal way, to lighten up.

They say the two best days of a boat owner's life are when the boat is bought and when it's sold. That's partly because the actual experience of having a boat, with the inevitable mechanical problems and constant upkeep, is never as good as it seems in anticipation. But it's also because there is a simple, natural pleasure in giving things up.

I've always been happily surprised to relearn the life lesson that getting rid of things is almost as much fun as acquiring them in the first place. The cycle is endless:

* We want what we don't have.

* Imagining the pleasures of having it, we acquire it.

* Having it, we realize the pleasures it provides are not as many or as intense as we had imagined.

* We continue to own it, but the pleasure/hassle ratio inverts.

* We get rid of it and feel good about being "light" again.

* We go through a period of blissful neutrality, during which the image of the thing we no longer have creates no want in us.

* After a period of time, the want comes back.

* Imagining the pleasures of having it, we acquire it again.

* Etc., etc.

The next time I go to Nicaragua, I'll have but six pairs of pants to choose from, a dozen shirts, and five pairs of shoes (one pair of hiking boots, one pair of riding boots, a pair of sandals, a pair of dress shoes, and a pair of sneakers). Ah, the simplicity! At least for a while ...

posted by M. Masterson @ 9:06 AM,


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