searching for simplicity: finding contentment in the now.
At the beginning of the year, my husband and I decided that maybe it was time to sell our house and search for a new one. We’ve always talked about selling and moving closer to our jobs, the school district we’d prefer, the city we both grew up in that bustles with art and small businesses and cute Craftsman-lined streets. Our current homes lies in a neighboring town, a sleeper community that stretches with farmland and dollar stores and front yards littered with broken-down vehicles. We do not hate our town, but coming from a city quite different we always felt this house was just our first, and our path would take us back to the city we loved, the city we worked & played in, eventually shortening our commute. As the five-year anniversary of living in our home approached we decided that maybe it was time. The equity in our home is great and our income has changed a bit too; Elliott will be starting kindergarten in 2017 and we were growing weary of the 30-minute commutes. So shortly after Adeline was born, we started looking at homes. We even put a few offers in, readying our house for sale in the meantime.
The thing about homes located in more “desirable” neighborhoods are that they are expensive and it quickly became clear that we would have to downsize. Smaller square footage, smaller yard, less parking for ourselves and our guests. This is not a bad thing, in theory, I might even argue that it is a good thing. But as I stopped to think about it, as the Spring sun started to warm the corners of my backyard, I began to realize that the comfort & warmth of our current home are sizable and would be difficult to match in our more “desirable” zip code. Getting to work, schools, and restaurants would still require hopping in the car, so what is the point really? Less money spent to fuel our cars so we had more money for a mortgage? We may have some cash to put in the bank after the sale of our home, but that would quickly be put back into the new house, fixing it up so it contained all the comfort & warmth of the home that we left.
It is okay to be happy with what I have now. Especially when what I have is more than enough.
I’m finding that I have always been prey to allowing discontent to seep in. Discontent that’s unwarranted. Discontent that’s designed to line someone else's pockets, to feed into my insecurities, to keep me working hard because it will never be enough.
The minimalism movement is gaining speed and I am happily jumping on the bandwagon, to a point. All that minimalism strives for is simplicity. Living more simply. Living more intentionally. Throwing out all the excess that discontentment tells us we need in order to be happy, telling lies through images on social media and the Internet, feeding into our insecurities and collecting from our wallets. It’s sad, really, and it’s not a new message. I am not driving a point home that you haven’t already seen a meme for, but I think it’s a message that we all need to hear. We do not need to live for the future; what we need to live for is now.
The whole point of minimalism, in my view, is letting go not just of things, but of that discontent. We will never find contentment in things. I know this because I have spent years trying to make more money, spending my down time in retails stores trying to feed whatever I am searching for, needing something, that one thing. Inevitably I buy said thing, and the satisfaction lasts only a moment. A few days, maybe a week. And then my focus wants for something new. This is how our homes end up cluttered in part, and why we are still unhappy. Something in us sees what someone else has, we buy into false comparisons, and resign our happiness to material possessions. It’s a trap, and as we have been house hunting I realize no combination of walls and a roof will be enough.
So therein lies the dilemma. Keep searching or…. find contentment? As I look around I see blessing upon blessings. I see beauty. I see memories of my children. I hear laughter & old vinyl records playing. I feel the warm breeze and the sun on my back. And I realize: I have more than enough.