It’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, a time when people reflect on their lives and what they’ve accomplished over the year, setting goals for the future. The dark days of winter are, I’m sure, created in order for us to have time to be introspective, thoughtful, mindful of how we live our lives. And I intend to do just that. After I’m finished resting and relaxing.
Yes, indeed, I have hit the days of Sloth full force with my resting ways. Today I have accomplished the following: a shower, throwing wrapping paper from Christmas into the recycle bin. That is all, really. And I am completely satisfied with my level of usefulness in the world. My needs this week, in terms of being at all useful to others, are small. And in this slow-moving, deliberate living I have embraced of late, I have, indeed, had some time to think, even if I haven’t given it much notice.
I’ve been thinking about how this time last year I was on a rampage getting rid of stuff. It’s as though I somehow thought that our cutting of the dock lines was just around the corner of our lives and that I had to hurry up and simplify. Oh, brother. In so doing, I have complicated things terribly. Whatever you do, don’t believe everything you read about how ‘freeing’ it is to get rid of all your stuff because sometimes that is just a damn lie. And this lie comes home to roost on Christmas day when you have 9 people over for dinner and own only 3 dining room chairs because you gave the other chairs away since they were cluttering up the place. And then you have the neighbors over for dinner and apologize about the lack of chairs, commenting that you don’t know what happened to them and they respond with, “You gave them to our son last year because you didn’t need them anymore. Do you need them back? You don’t have anyplace for people to sit when you entertain.” Right. Like I’m going to take back chairs I gave to someone just starting out in life who can barely make a living much less buy new chairs. How embarrassing.
Oh sure, throwing everything out would be freeing if I didn’t ever need things again, or if I was moving onto a boat, say, tomorrow. But since neither of those things is true, I better slow down or we won’t have anyplace to sit in our own home.
Oh, we’ve de-cluttered the place nicely this year. We’ve made so many trips to Goodwill that they know us by name. But the dirty truth is this: getting rid too much stuff well in advance of making a move to a small place, or a boat, is useless. Why? Because nature abhors a vacuum, that’s why. We live in a 3000 square foot house, more or less. Already with both kids gone most of the time, we feel as though we are knocking around in a huge empty space. Getting rid of things that take up that empty space just creates more empty space, and, naturally, it somehow gets filled with more stuff. It just feels weird to have big blank areas where furniture needs to be. I took the advice of all the self-help gurus and got rid of all the stuff I didn’t use or have on display. That leaves exactly 3000 square feet of stuff that I DO use and IS on display. The house is too big for just us, but we’re in a transitional phase just now and we’re not getting rid of it anytime soon.
And speaking of that, I’ve been pretty attached to my house lately. Maybe it’s just that it’s winter, and cold and wet but I’ve come to realize that my dreams of being on a boat really do generally include warm weather and sunshine. Not that I don’t want to sail in colder climates. I do, but I don’t intend to be miserable all the time while doing it. So this time of year when I miss the boat and think ‘let’s go sailing’, I look outside, realize that what’s in my head doesn’t match the reality outside, and then become thankful that I’m warm and dry. Call me middle-aged. Call me a sailing wimp. Whatever. I prefer to think of it as ‘blooming where I’m planted’.
Mike has been more productive today, but then, he has a more finely developed sense of guilt than I have. After all, he did grow up in the south. He and Andrew replaced the brake shoes on two cars today, so he feels like he deserves to be laying on the couch reading one of his many new books he received from Santa this Christmas…books on sailing. Mike received 4 riveting books that are sailing oriented, and we’ll post about them later. For now, suffice to say that while Mike received books on sailing adventures, and Andrew received new sailing boots and a new anchor roller for Danger Kitten, I received kitchen utensils and a gift certificate to the spa. I’m beginning to sense a trend. Now, to be fair, I have been ‘into’ cooking lately, as is evidenced by the luscious Beef Bourguignon I served for Christmas dinner. Still, I believe my point is well taken. I will be reading his books so I dearly hope he is in a sharing kind of mood.
And so during these days of sloth when I’ve given myself the gift of not giving a damn what I get done, Mike lies on one couch, I type on another couch… you can see where I’m going with this: we simply must buy a boat with two generously built settees. Otherwise, there is no other way this whole plan will actually work.