Learning to live with a little less

In Thinking it Through, Tony Watkins asks

What do you give to the person who has everything? Probably the greatest gift would be the ability to live with a little less. Far more than any consumer addition, they will treasure the ability to be free.

A single plum ripening on my plum tree.

A single plum ripening on my tree.

The quote is from a piece called “Living with a little less”, and it’s stuck in my head for the last week or so; becoming  a lens through which I see more clearly the things that are going on in my life at the moment; from de-cluttering my house, to planning meals around what’s ripe in my garden, to the way I am looking at tv advertising, politics, the environment … even trying to improve my health can be understood as living with a little less … of me.

Much of Watkins’ piece is about the process of design, suggesting that good design can be either additive—beginning with the core of form or function and adding what is needed to achieve that; or subtractive—starting with the outer limits and taking away everything that isn’t needed to achieve the design goal. (Thinking it through, p. 16)

One of the things I relish about Tony Watkins’ writing is the way ideas move so fluidly—from comment on architecture to the observation that:

The powerful philosophy of the consumer society moves us into an additive mode of thinking, but even the wealthy reach a point where they feel the need to have a garage sale.

In global terms, I am one of the wealthy—and now it’s time for my garage sale.

14 thoughts on “Learning to live with a little less

  1. Reblogged this on Zimmerbitch and commented:

    This is one of the very earliest posts I wrote on ZimmerBitch. I’ve been re-reading Tony Watkins’ book “Thinking it Through” and realised how firmly his thinking has become embedded in my own — then, and now.


  2. I think I’m just about ready for a garage sale too. Thank you for this simple but thought-provoking post. Now I think I need to read the book you mentioned. And you photo is an exquisite example of this philosophy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. No more garage sales for me, Su, even though I’m working at decluttering. We had one once many years ago and it wasn’t worth the work we put into it. Now I simply load up my extras and donate them to the local thrift stores, mainly one at a nearby church where I also shop. I tend to be a saver, so getting rid of things is a challenge. 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hehe. I think my “garage sales” will only ever be purely metaphorical. I hate the idea of hanging around all day while people paw over stuff. I’m like you and take everything I can to the thrift stores. Been out this morning and done just that in fact. Now I have to tackle the boxes of paperwork that will have to be burned or shredded. Have a great week. Cheers, Su.

      Liked by 1 person

        • I’ve been very good at keeping bank and insurance records, utility bills, and assorted other manifestations of officialdom over the years. I really have to go through all of these and get rid of most of them. Unsurprisingly perhaps, I’m finding lots of other “chores” claiming my time first.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m not a saver and tend to do mini purges on a regular basis, yet I still feel overwhelmed by too much ‘stuff’ sometimes.
    A thought provoking post – especially the part about downsizing myself 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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