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Thursday, June 2, 2011

How Much Do We Really Need?

I'm reading a novel that has a scene in it with a group of anchoresses, vowed women who lived during the middle ages dedicated to a life of prayer and contemplation in the solitude of a small cell usually attached to the church. The cell had three windows: one opened into the church so they could receive Communion, one was for contact with her assistant, and the third was for people to come and request prayers, advice, etc. When I saw the video below I thought of the life of the anchoresses.

Obviously the tiny home below would not be suitable for a large family, but how much do we actually need? Most of us are drowning in stuff! I know my husband and I talk about this often because we live in a large colonial that is only full in the summer when our children and their families come to visit. Most of the time we rattle around in it using only a fraction of its space. I don't think I'd like to live in 320 square feet like the family in the video, but many people in the third world would consider their house a mansion!


Alice said...

Thanks for sharing but I hope you;re not getting any ideas! Think of all the books you'd have to give away!

Anonymous said...

If I only had one kid, or none, sure.
But with 5 kids I was going insane in a 1200 sq ft apartment. We now have a 3750 sq ft home, it's huge but we do keep our stuff to a minimum.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I thought you were into little houses, Alice. I'm going for 800 square feet and floor to ceiling bookcases. It's the square dancing clothes I'd have to keep under control.

S. Petersn said...

You have consistently displayed an understanding that our culture must rest on the transcendent even as it provides material means for us to work out our salvation. Your idea here of getting along with less is fundamental. Neither party would dream of trying to tell this to the electorate. Our economic system is built not merely on consumption, but actual waste.
The worst of it is that this is one of those "We have met the enemy and he is us" situations. Those begining to take over now are the fourth generation of Americans who can have everything. We've grown to expect it.
Let me add one of my favorite stories about this: We have two cars both loaded with gadgets. The one has a button on the steering wheel to adjust the radio volume. Driving the other car one day, I was shocked to find that I was experiencing reaching over to the dashboard to turn up the sound as an inconvenience.
I don't know how we're going to get over this.

Alice said...

Well, I consider our house small for our size family. We have about 2400 sq ft. I'm not sure downsizing worked quite the way I had thought it would though because with seven of us here most of the time, we have a lot of mess and clutter. I find it very hard to keep up with. If we had more space, I'd at least be able to spread it out more :)
And, sorry--you're stuck with Camp Kreitzer for awhile. Of course, if you turned the living room into a bed room, and put a shower in the main floor bath, you could live on that level and pretend you had only 800 square feet--not a bad idea actually :)

Francesca said...

Mary Ann, I downsized from a colonial, to a studio, and finally to rooms in several different locations--I travel. Each time I downsized to a smaller living space, but to a bigger city.

Until this year, I always traveled with two 50 pound bags and a carry on. This past trip I added a third bag.

It would be so easy to start to accumulate stuff again, but then I would have to pay the extra luggage fees and where would I put the stuff in a small room. And I know I don't need anymore than what I have in those three pieces of luggage. Of course I have a computer. That I don't think I could live without.