The joy of less

There’s a useless little column-let in the Times today titled “The Joy of Less.” I won’t claim that I read it – but I did read the title – and now off I go on my own thoughts. It seems somehow appropriate.

The past week, I’ve been sitting in a totally empty house for work. I moved a single table and a few chairs over – as well as some basic tools, a bunch of cleaning supplies, and a shelf for them to sit upon. The plan is to do a lot of work on the house before we move in. It’s pretty much good to go now – but so much easier to paint without furniture. So much easier to sit in our cushy apartment and direct the contractors as they remove and replace gutters, grade the lawn, touch up the masonry, and so on.

Yet I sit over there – because it’s my house … and also because there’s something odd that happens to my mind with all that space around me. I find that without my usual excuses for procrastination, I’m quite productive. Even with my half hour breaks for chores (mowing the lawn, sweeping a floor, cleaning a room’s worth of windows) I get a lot done.

I rattle around a little bit – sitting at the only table and upon the only chair on an entire 5 room floor. I’ve been rising early (for me, hush ) and driving over there to start work. I walk up to the coffee shop in the morning, to one of the restaurants at noon, and back up to the coffee shop in the afternoon. One day at around 5, I tried out the local bar, sitting with the other men at the end of their workday – having a beer. I didn’t feel like I fit in, nor did I particularly want to, but I was certainly welcome. I asked if they had food. The answer: “We got chips …”.

Tomorrow I’m going to drive over in the morning and leave my car there – taking the T to the airport for a business trip. It seems a little odd, but also soothing in some fundamental way. Sure – it’s just a parking space now, but it’s my parking space.

As we decorate, I hope to keep some of that empty space. With a house on this scale there’s absolutely no need to cram it full of crap.

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