"Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art..."
~ Frank Lloyd Wright
Recently, two of our friends sold their homes and moved away from our neighborhood.
Both sets of friends have recently become empty-nesters with their children moving away to college and/or to other areas of the country.
One of our friends decided to downsize and purchase a smaller home than their original home while the other friends decided to purchase a larger home than they currently have.
The friends who moved into a smaller home, no longer had the physical space to keep all of their possessions, so they made three piles to triage their worldly belongings:
1) Move to the new home
2) Give away or donate
Empty boxes, broken Christmas tree ornaments and old wrapping paper were found in a box in a corner of their garage in near proximity to another box filled with maternity clothes, a drawer full of VHS tapes were discovered although they hadn’t had a VCR in the house for at least 5 years, and books that have been already read lined the selves of the den.
At the end of this cleansing exercise, each of the piles was almost equal in size. There was also a great sense of liberation as they realized that over the 20 or so years that they lived in this home, they had acquired and kept so many things that were absolutely extraneous to their lives.
After several trips to the Salvation Army collection center and to the local dump, our friends then packed up their remaining goods in a rented van and moved themselves out of one home and into another over the course of one weekend.
Now contrast those friends to our other friends... the ones who purchased the larger home.
One of the primary reasons that these friends wanted/needed to move was simply that they had run out of space at their current home and needed more room to store additional items.
Now in their defense, they have purchased some really nice things over the years, including antique furniture, musical instruments, power wood-working tools, and other assorted collectibles. Because of this fact, they often found that it made no sense to rid themselves of these assets because those items had some real associated value.
Still...the fact remains... they have a lot of stuff!
Unlike our other friends, moving all of these things was no easy task.
First, everything was being moved. Nothing was being trashed or donated to a new home. There was one pile and it was all going. Even the pieces of furniture that no longer matched the interior of the new home were being moved as there was some remote possibility that these items might have some utility in the future.
Secondly, there needed to be added care as not to actually cause any breakage when moving the items. Each piece needed to be individually wrapped and carefully packed. This also meant that each piece needed to be loaded, moved and unwrapped at the new home.
Needless to say, this move (as compare with the other friends’ move) was drawn out, labor intensive, overly complicated, and expensive in terms of man-power to complete.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to visit the homes of both sets of friends.
The first friends were already unpacked and living a much simpler lifestyle in a smaller but very comfortable new home whereas the second set of friends were still living out of boxes not really sure where most of their items were located but believing (and hoping) that they were safely buried in their brimming garage and overflowing back patio (enclosed).
From what I saw this past weekend, I truly believe that it will be at least several weeks (if not months or possibly years) before a dent will be made in securing permanent locations for all of the items and I wondered if my friends might simply just give up looking for items that they know exist in some box and go out and purchase duplicate items to use in the meantime.
There is one word that really describes the divergent lives of our two friends: Simplicity...
There are two basic fundamentals to simplifying our lives:
- Determine what are truly important, must-have needs to make us happy and/or become a better person.
- Eliminate everything else.
Now in theory... this is great advice... in practice it gets a little more convoluted.
Understand this... simplicity is just not a matter of reduction. There can be a lot of things that make us happy or become better people so eliminating all of those things are not necessarily a good thing.
In addition, simplification doesn’t mean that you give up powerful technology tools in order to join an Amish community so you can build your own furniture and raise crops.
The idea of simplifying and having less things has now permeated to the great "sharing economy" of today where AirBnB, Uber, and cloud computing have turned their respective industries upside down by finding ways to share underutilized resources. No need to buy it when you can rent it only when you need it.
As I learn more about the millennial generation, I am observing that many of them are investing their resources into experiences rather than trying to acquire more "stuff"... spending money on travel, learning, and social interactions. These young people understand that more isn’t necessarily better... better is better.
The real idea of simplifying means that you find a way to do fewer things but doing those things better... not settling for adequate... but demanding the best from yourself.
The great basketball coach of UCLA, John Wooden used to tell his players, "Don’t try to be better than someone else, but do try to be the best you can be. You don’t need to be perfect, but you do need to give everything you have to live up to your own potential."
Coach Wooden understood that great repeatable success comes not from doing a lot of hard or seemingly impossible things... but rather doing the simple things extremely well... practicing simplicity with constant repetition until we can master the task.
Simplicity is learning to do more with less.
Pablo Picasso, the great Spanish painter, epitomized the concept of less is more in many of his most famous and enduring art works...
It’s about doing what we love and learning to master it... quality over quantity... being present in whatever we are doing.
Life is really simple... but for whatever reason we insist on making it more complicated than it is.
Thank you very much for your support of OptiFuse where we try to find simple solutions to your complicated problems...
Jim Kalb President
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Website - www.optifuse.com
Blog - www.optifuse.blogspot.com
Twitter - @OptiFuse