Sunday, May 23, 2021

Uplifting downsizing


[large and small trees*]

The last ten years, especially this last year, have created a plethora of changes in many people’s lives, including mine. One of most noticeable and positive, in my view, differences is downsizing, reducing the amount of “stuff” as George Carlin would say. While for some more is still better, many including myself have experienced an improved quality of life by reducing, addition by subtraction if you will. To demonstrate, I now have a smaller house and car, less books, limited television access and eat less frequently, all for the positive.

Some ten years ago, I had a large, multistory house (240 sq.  m/2500 sq. f.) with an expansive garden. Aside from making an impression on visitors and having lots of storage space, it involved constant investment of time and money to maintain. Now, I have a flat and garden half the size, which takes less than half the time to clean, is subject to half the property taxes and requires much less water. Not only that, it is located in a neighborhood with a wider variety of people, who also actually talk to their neighbors. The move to a smaller residence has improved my quality of life.

We recently sold our fancy sedan with all the bells and whistles, some of which I understood the function, and bought a small car (Mazda 2). It is a pleasure not to watch the gas gauge float down in front of your eyes while driving. Parking is much easier as is operating the few buttons on the dashboard. It also turned out the most of the lost space in the trunk was in terms of height, not usable surface area. Functionality is cool.

Over my life, I had collected quite a few books, which I insisted on dragging with me from place to place. A smaller residence forced me to “part” from the vast majority of these prized possessions. I spend a painful afternoon considering whether I would ever reread each and every book. The answer in most cases was negative. Some 10 boxes of books were donated to the public library. Curiously, I have never regretted their loss and hope that some reader somewhere has enjoyed them.


By contrast, divorcing cable was an easy decision but a much longer process as the cable companies, at least in Israel, tend to view these connections as Catholic marriages. After over a year of squabbling, pleas, delays and screaming, we managed to cut the cord and now watch TV through our computer using an Internet TV supplier. Not only do we watch local TV for free, we have access to the foreign channels we actually watch. Even better, the monthly fee is much less. When it comes to TV, quantity does mean price but not quality.

Finally, the prolonged Corona crisis prevented everybody from eating at restaurants. Granted, takeaway and delivery were/are available, but the food and experience are not the same. While homemade food may involve more cooking and cleaning up time, it generally is much tastier (my wife is a very good cook). Furthermore, we control the amount of salt in the food. Most importantly, because restaurant portions are much larger than we normally eat, it is very pleasant to get up from a lunch, the main meal in Israel, feeling full but not stuffed. Not surprisingly, the monthly credit card bill is lower as homemade food is generally less expensive than eating out. I still enjoy going to quality restaurants but will do so much less frequently.

None of these changes would fit the bill of a Knut Hamsun naturalistic paradise.  I still live in a nice flat, have a car, buy books occasionally, watch TV and eat out. However, I do so on a much smaller scale. For whatever reason, this downsizing has actually improved my life as it has for many people, uplifting it so to speak. For some, less is better.

* Picture captions allow the blind to fully access the Internet. Pictures through Pixabay.

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