Wednesday, June 16, 2010

#70 - Working Toward Simplicity in a Complex World, Pt. 1

Teresa, Christopher, and I recently came back from one of the many weekends we hope to spend this year in our new to us fifth wheel trailer. Odd as it might sound to many in our super-sized, bigger is better world, Teresa and I seriously talk about and contemplate one day leaving our 2,000 square foot home (increasingly small by American standards) and moving into a 300-350 square foot fifth wheel or motor home.

One of the difficulties we will have to overcome is the problem of what to do with all that stuff. Like most Americans, I suspect, we have accumulated assorted treasures, necessities, creature comforts, tools, etc., most of which we will have to leave behind as they will not fit in the average or even the super-sized trailer or motor home.

That raises the question of where to start. When we look at the big picture and see all of the stuff we have (and we have less than many), it seems as if we could never get rid of enough to enable us to fulfill our dream of living in an RV, at least not without a bulldozer to come in and ruthlessly shovel most of the items away.

We are, I suppose, lucky in that we do not have a great deal of heirlooms or family keepsakes to have to store or find a place for in the RV. From my side of the equation, we have a set of flatware that was a wedding gift from my mother. That, we could use in the RV if we decided to keep it. I also have a few drawings and painting my mother did that I might like to keep. Those, we could rotate and use for decoration in the RV. Maybe.

Teresa has some family pictures, which we have talked about digitizing. She has also been worked to convert a number of songs from the many albums we still own to mp3 so that we can keep the music without the need to keep the albums.

That still leaves a great deal to weed out and rid ourselves of. When I was younger - especially after I went back to school - I became an avid book buyer, to the point where we had shelves full of books in several rooms of the house. I obtained them (some bought, some free) either with an eye toward graduate school or with the thought I would like to read them some day. In most cases, I never have.

Since we moved to Idaho seven years ago, I have managed to rid myself of four or five boxes of books, donating them to the local library. However, I have several hundred still to go through, knowing I cannot possibly keep them and pursue a full-time life in an RV. As any full-time RVer will tell you, books add a lot of weight to your RV and quickly eat up precious cargo carrying capacity. So, nearly all of the books must go, although I plan to keep a few. Deciding which few I will keep is what keeps me from getting rid of most of the collection at this point.

Then there is the garage, crammed full of stuff I'm not even sure we know we have. In that sense, we are much like any average American family. Here in Idaho, most new houses are built with three-car garages, two-thirds of which usually seems to be filled with anything but a car. That, I suppose, makes us a bit different from many. First, we get by with a two-car garage. Second, we can actually park one car in the garage.

Like most Americans, though, we have bought into the consumerism culture, hook, line, and sinker. We buy, I'm sure, things we don't need or things we think we need only to come across it on a shelf or in a drawer a few years later and wonder why we bought it and lamenting the fact that we spent money on it.

Unlike a house, though, even the biggest RV has a very limited amount of space for stuff. Yet we find we have plenty of stuff in the RV and we don't feel ourselves deprived. If anything, we feel like we have more of everything, something I'll explore more in another entry.

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