The Upside of Downsizing
After waiting for almost two years I finally pulled the trigger on remodeling our home. We purchased a modest two-story Cape Cod style home on a canyon with great views of the Pacific and the San Elijo Lagoon in Cardiff, CA. Since the work is going to be fairly invasive inside and out we decided to rent a condo a few miles away in Leucadia. The condo is roughly half the size of our house. Considering we are going to take residence in this place for three months we brought a decent amount of things but still kept it to a minimum considering what we had left and also not wanting to lug stuff back for our return.
Two weeks into our stay it dawned on me that everything about our existence in the new space was simple. Keeping things tidy is a snap, obviously because it is half the size, but there is more to this. We have less of everything. We don’t have a garage full of tools, kids’ sports equipment, random items for home repair and gardening; no burgeoning junk drawers, no accumulated crap. We each have possibly five outfits to wear, not hard in southern CA, but nonetheless enough. It’s like the weight being constantly surrounded by a collection of items that you and your wife have held on to for almost two decades is a load, a burden that you are unaware of until you take a step back from it for a good period of time. Maybe, subconsciously, being enveloped by things, my things, has a gravity to it and it weighs you down. I don’t think a vacation gives you this same “unbloated” feeling. I mean it’s liberating to take off to another city and sleep in clean hotel sheets, have room service, and know that housekeeping will “reset” everything to it’s splendor every 24hrs. That is surface freedom, it’s temporary and in the back of your mind you know you will have to take the plane back home and walk back into your actual cluttered and busy life. The feeling is temporary.
The biggest take-aways for me is that we produce less than half of the garbage/waste that we usually do. I know this because I have to walk about 50 yards to the can that we share with two other neighbors. This is huge to me. I am very conscious of our environment and our impact on it as the global population keeps skyrocketing and Amazon keeps delivering. Not surprising and interesting, the less modernized civilizations to the South of us produce less waste than we do by a very wide margin. In fact, I just read an article in The New Yorker titled “There Are No Borders in a Climate Crisis” illustrates that 4% of us in the US produce more greenhouse gases that most countries. Closer to home, in a study done a few years ago by a local news station reported the top 10 cities in San Diego county by trash per household. The number 1 & 2 spot went to Del Mar and Coronado. Both cities are at the top of the ladder in terms of wealth and also boast the most square feet of living space per person in the county.
OK, so back on track here. I was sharing my new found love of “less” to my family. My wife got it right away- same page, and she used to throw all of my stuff out whenever I went out of town on business when we first moved in together- so she’s there. Kids don’t get it but they also have only a handful of carefully selected toys & games. And what they did bring is getting used rather than buried in a pile of neglected playthings. So when we have the house cleaned, painted, empty for our return we will be very discriminating when we start to hang clothes back up, hammer pictures back on walls, and refill our fridge and pantry. I try to keep this streamlined living in perspective every day with my business and how it impacts my daily life and the lives of my employees. The world, especially capitalistic societies, keep us on a steady path of consumption and accumulation. Shed the fat and get back to the basics in life and in business.
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