desire and need and how you cut your carrots

pink sherbet photography via flickr

Found an interesting passage on a blog called Minimal Mac, which I will quote in a moment (knowing as a I do that there is deep meaning within all that comes with the apple logo, trust me)…

I do believe (and often soliloquize about it to my kids) that how you live your life is reflected in everything you do, from how you keep your room (that’s one I say often), to how you talk to people, to what you choose to do with your free time.

Seems Patrick Rhone, who writes/curates the Minimal Mac site agrees, taking it even to how you keep your Mac. He is writing a book called “Enough,” which will no doubt be interesting to those of us who are drawn to simplifying our lives, or at least enjoy keeping the illusion of doing so. He describes its premise here.

“If you buy a big house, or a buy a large hard drive for that matter, you will in all likelihood fill it. No matter how much of a “minimalist” you are, you will fill that space. Why? There is no cost to doing so. There is no real hardship for buying that extra couch, assuming you have the money, in the case of the house. With the hard drive, there is no real cost to keeping ten thousand photos all in RAW or having a dozen text editors when you only use or need one.

Often, it is not enough to embrace limitations. Instead, consider creating limitations. Why? Because it forces one to consider cost. Not just monetary but also spacial, cognitive, and practical as well. It forces one to ask tough questions about real need versus desire.

For example, though I live in what I consider to be a large house, I keep my clothes in a small wardrobe.  All of them. And within the wardrobe, I have dedicated spaces for certain items. For instance, I have a single drawer for my jeans. It has just enough space for five pair. I really can’t buy another pair of jeans without making a choice between what pair to replace or not being able to fit them in that drawer. Buying a new pair of jeans has enough of a cost beyond money that it keeps me honest about how many pairs of jeans I need.

One can create such limits and constraints no matter your circumstance. Not just for the sake of doing so, but to discover what your personal center of balance of desire and need is. That is to say, what is enough for you.”

I love the concept of creating our own limits and constraints, of ascetism…not in a punishing overly control-freak way, but at least in rethinking things and curbing that human need for more, that greediness we all have to fill our world with excess. Ever fasted, and noticed how it makes you appreciate every bite, every sip which follows?

Discovering our “personal center of balance of desire and need” is pretty much what we all struggle with until the day we die, that balance. We call it many things, and it has been discussed and debated since time began in every culture, every religion…but basically it is the same thing: if we feed one too much it grows bloated and the other will starve. Both are vital to life yet dependent on a fragile link which keeps them separated yet balanced.

Ever try standing on one leg for a long period of time? Some are really good at it (flamingos and yoga folks can do it for hours), but regardless of who attempts it it requires a constant effort and attention.

We are talking balance here, and those who take this control waaaay too far (for example, using this which I saw in a bookstore today which gave me a sort of uneasy chuckle) need to chill.

But it’s summer, summertime, summertime (at least in this hemisphere), and it is a time to relax, to let the scales tip a bit one way or the other without feeling guilty, and there is flexibility built into that balance that not only allows that but seems to require it.

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2 thoughts on “desire and need and how you cut your carrots

  1. I love this! I am a great believer in “purging,” much to my family’s chagrin. We have a rule that if you buy something substantial (a pair of jeans or shoes, a jacket…) you get rid of the corresponding old thing.

    It makes life so much simpler and enjoyable. And I love the cutting board!!

    1. I think we’ve shared our passion for purging (as in stuff, not food) before, kario 🙂

      We are not alone, but I think we are in the minority here in the U.S. Just tonite I was on a website looking for a new pair of Birkenstock’s for my daughter (pricey shoes, so we get a pair only when the others are falling apart…hers are). There are apparently Birkie groupies, and a scary lot of them, who have 40, 50, 60 and more pairs. That’s just gross. You could feed a village for a whole year with just a fraction of that money spent. (And it’s not even Manolo’s….it’s Birkenstocks!).

      But then again, everyone is different, and who am I to judge? (but I definitely do when I see excess like that).

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