ashland.news
June 14, 2024

Inner Peace: Simply enough

Image by Josep Monter Martinez from Pixabay
June 7, 2024

The desire to accumulate more and more things finally gave way to a change of priorities, to a simpler life

By Annie Katz

My parents were young and uneducated, and I was the oldest of their four children. They struggled to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads. They rarely had money for new shoes or toys.

Annie Katz
Annie Katz

When I was a young career woman making plenty of money, I went through stages of collecting way too many shoes, way too many cookbooks and way too many pretty clothes. When I lived in big houses, the material stuff magically accumulated to fill every nook and cranny.

Now that I’m older, I’m pretty good about living simply and managing greedy tendencies. I live in a small rented cottage that comfortably contains all my physical belongings (except my small car, which is parked a few steps from the cottage entrance). That’s it. No warehouse storage spaces. No stashes of stuff at friends’ or relatives’ houses or in their garages.

Okay, I still buy things I don’t need and must give away some useful items to make space for the shiny new ones, so my greedy impulses are still alive. But I’m working on relinquishing unnecessary shopping. Maybe someday I’ll be content with what I already have and not be seduced by the idea that there’s a prettier bowl or a cozier sweater somewhere on the planet. I want to embrace the idea that “enough is enough” and to stop searching out there for happiness. I’d rather search for ways to become a wiser, kinder, gentler human being.

How did I go from a four-bedroom house filled to the brim to a small uncluttered cottage? The answer is year by year, through giant leaps interspersed with baby steps. The first giant leap was divorcing my husband. He kept the house and nearly everything else, which was fine with me. I left that long, difficult relationship with enough to start over, which was all I wanted.

Several years later I moved from a two-bedroom apartment in Washington State to a studio apartment on the Oregon coast. The only furniture I took was a bed, a dresser, a computer desk and a chair.

From that studio, I moved to a one-bedroom apartment and accumulated more stuff, but 10 years later, I moved to Maui, taking only the things I could send through the mail. During my 18 years in Maui, I gradually ended up with way too much stuff again.

One day I looked around my home, and all my stuff felt like thousands of pounds of excess weight that was severely limiting my freedom. That’s when I came across the idea of living simply, so I studied all I could about decluttering, minimalist lifestyles and the concept that less is more. Less stuff is more time for the important things in life, things money can’t buy and storage companies can’t house. Less stuff equals more freedom to move, more room to dance, more time to entertain friends, more money to donate to others and more space to breathe.

When those ideas sunk in, I got to work giving away, selling and donating stuff. Downsizing became a habit that made me feel lighter and happier. I proved to myself that owning 12 cookbooks is better than owning 200, 10 pairs of shoes is better than 50 pairs, and one small closet full of clothes is better than three large closets full.

Less stuff means more space for creativity and joy. I’ve found that the fewer objects around me, the more peaceful I feel. When my home gets cluttered it’s a sign that my mind is cluttered too, and that means it is time to review my priorities. What’s most important? How do I want to live these precious last days and years of my life? What do I value most?

Glancing around my cottage today, I can say, “Yes. My home reflects my values and priorities, and I’m very grateful to have simply enough.”

Annie Katz is a retired educator living in Ashland. She has studied philosophy and spiritual practices all her life and now writes novels for fun. Readers may contact Annie at katzannie33@gmail.com.

Want to contribute? Send 600 -to 700-word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Richard Carey (rcarey009@gmail.com).

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