In the article, we read of Tammy Strobel and her husband, Logan Smith, who whittle down their two-bedroom apartment, two cars and house full of stuff down to a 400-square foot studio with a kitchen, four plates, three pairs of shoes and two pots and a few other personal items. They say they are happier and they are delightfully debt-free.
These are my people.
Tammy Strobel and her husband, Logan Smith, in their pared-down,
400-square-foot apartment in Portland, Ore. (Leah Nash for The New York Times)
In recent times, Santa Monica reopened the mall. It was a giant overhaul and now it sports a slew of fancy schmancy shops. People in the community are frothing at the mouth to spend their coinage at the mall. They don't care about the 40 minute wait for parking or the 100-person deep lineup. They want to buy stuff at the new mall because it's new.
Then they moan to their friends about how they need more cash and how stressed they are about the credit card debt that doesn't seem to go down. Or how they hate their jobs but can't leave because they live paycheck to paycheck.
It's like when we eat lots of donuts and wonder why we can't lose a pound. Must be a slow metabolism.
Yeah... that must be it.
Now that I'm considering the possibility of moving on from my apartment, which is my biggest monthly expense by far, I look around it and get panicked. There is so much stuff. And I'm not even a shopper. I can't stand shopping. Ask my sisters. When we go shopping, I'm sitting on the park benches outside the stores with the old men whose wives are shopping inside with my sisters. I'm not a person who likes to collect a lot. But, what am I to do with the toaster, the flower pots, the binders of papers, the books, socks, towels and sheets? Or the crock pot and winter coats and bikinis? Or about the other 1,000 or so items in my place?
It's all a bit much.
And you know why I have all that stuff? Because I thought it would make me happy. It just makes me have to work longer to afford my space and all the stuff in that space, which makes me miserable.
Mrs Strobel agrees. “The idea that you need to go bigger to be happy is false,” she says. “I really believe that the acquisition of material goods doesn’t bring about happiness.”
You got that right sister.
The article also sites that studies show that spending money on experiences rather than things produces longer-lasting satisfaction. Basically, bring on the European vacation and forgo the new curtains.
Now I'm not saying that stuff doesn't matter. Last night I quite enjoyed laying on my couch with my fresh-cut flowers nearby, flipping through a magazine. I had candles flickering, the fireplace crackling. Life was lovely last night because of the stuff I surround myself with.
(Unrelated: Don't like ending sentences with "with." Ack! I did it again.)
Still, I think I can pare down all my stuff. Deconstruct my little apartment layer by layer until I get it down to one suitcase.
Dun Laoghaire train station, Dublin, 2009.
I was on my way to Paris.
This was a good day.
I leave you with a little inspiration from the über awesome Eddie Vedder in his song Society.
"When you want more than you haveHell, let's just go for the whole enchilada. This is great coffee break video from YouTube's boardergirl20.
You think you need...
And when you think more than you want
Your thoughts begin to bleed
I think I need to find a bigger place
Because when you have more than you think
You need more space"