For some time now, I’ve felt a strong push (or pull?) to move. I dream about living in a condo where someone else would take care of yard work and there would be less rooms to clean. Or a sustainable home that generates its own energy and distributes grey water to the gardens.
I’ve even fantasized about living in another country like Denmark. They always rank so high in happiness ratings, afterall. Of course I don’t speak any Danish, so that might be a problem.
But mostly, I imagine an extended period of time where I would be able to shed most of my material burdens and focus on my family. Where we could all enjoy each other’s company rather than play paper-scissors-rock to decide who gets to weed the flower beds this week.
For me, there is a heavy, restrictive feeling that owning a home brings. There are fences to stain, windows to replace, gardens to keep, grass to mow, walls to paint, plumbing problems to resolve…and the list goes on and on.
Of course there is also a yard for the kids to play in. And the comfort that comes with not worrying whether the kids playing and thumping around will disrupt any neighbors.
Not to mention we love the schools in our area. My third grader’s elementary school is outstanding and I really couldn’t imagine pulling him out and having him start somewhere new.
My parents live right down the street as well, which the kids and I absolutely love.
Since the positives seem to at least match the negatives for the time being, we’ll probably stay put and focus on paying off the mortgage.
But the sense of restriction I feel when it comes to home ownership seem to spill over into other areas of my life. In fact, I’m beginning to think the whole concept of minimalism is simply a way for me to avoid responsibility and maintain freedom.
The part that confuses me, is why everybody doesn’t feel this way.
Many people I know (my parents included) seem to thrive on caring for and maintaining things. Whether it’s a home, a car or furniture, some individuals seem to be wired to nurture things.
But I’m just not built that way.
I love to nurture people, but I despise taking care of things. In fact, most times I’m downright resentful of the time it takes me to maintain and care for inanimate objects. Spending a Saturday scrubbing toilets and sweeping out the garage is not my idea of a fulfilling life.
Does this mean I feel I’m above menial tasks? That I’m lazy? Irresponsible? Not really.
I believe it just means that I can see through the illusion that is our physical reality. This is all temporary. New houses, impressive careers and shiny cars don’t sustain our souls. Loving relationships, spirituality and service are what brings us true contentment.
The trick is realizing that our physical world isn’t real. Nothing attained in this realm will follow us when we leave this world. In fact, the stuff we amass becomes a burden to those left to manage our estate.
We would be well served to focus our attention and energy on leaving those we care about with fond memories of time together and warm feelings of love. Not a huge house full of knickknacks and heavy furniture to sell or dispose of once we’re gone.