We recently visited our home (the double brick one on terra firma!) for a long weekend, and there within those walls I enjoyed again the comforts of living in a house. Things I usually take for granted. Things I hardly notice until I don’t have them anymore.
I put together a list of 10 basic comforts I miss, that have always made my life easy and enjoyable.
I acknowledge that the things on the following list do not necessarily reflect Ben’s point of view (I always say, he would be living out in the bush with less than the basics if he hadn’t met me!). And yes, I do recognise that they are all things that are part and parcel of an affluent life – things that many people in the world enjoy and take for granted.
But hey, I’m a self proclaimed ‘princess’ and I believe it’s fine to miss these things when they are not available, and enjoy them when they are. So here’s my top ten:
- Hot and cold running water on tap, rather than having to boil water first to wash dishes etc.
- A toilet available at any time.
- A sink to wash dishes in rather than a plastic bowl.
- A bed large enough to really spread out in.
- A fully equipped kitchen that I can cook anything my heart desires – from a Sunday roast, to a multi-dish curry meal, to using a microwave to heat up leftovers.
- A laundry with a washing machine and an iron without requiring a pile of coins for the laundromat machine.
- Unlimited wifi.
- A choice of big comfy armchairs to curl up in (or spread out on!) with a good book.
- Shoes – an embarrassingly large selection that I haven’t got to decluttering yet (rather than the choice of 3 pairs I currently have on the boat – a pair of havianas, walking shoes and sandals)
- And finally, clothes. Stored on hangers in a walk-in robe where I can see with a glance what’s available instead of fossicking through a suitcase and pulling out something creased to wear.
I had a glorious few days enjoying these modcons and ‘stuff’ that can make modern life a little easier and also give ridiculous amounts of pleasure. And you know, princesses don’t like to be inconvenienced!
But what I learnt about myself is that curiously I have become used to not having too much. This change of focus seems to have taken place gradually over about 6 months – four months travelling the world with a backpack and just 7 weeks of living on a small boat! In fact one day back at home, when choosing what to wear to go out, I actually felt a sense of anxiety. I realised that life on the boat is much simpler – there aren’t too many choices. We are truly living with less and it’s freeing.
Choices can add stress to our lives without us even realising it. I overheard a mother ask her 2 year old at one of the public toilets at Rottnest Island “which toilet do you want to use sweetie?” Surely this is the time in that child’s life that the mother can make such a basic decision, in order to allow the child to engage her brain in other more imaginative pursuits. Or maybe I’m just old fashioned.
But nevertheless I feel that living with less (not having too many, often unnecessary, choices) takes away that stress of decision making, and definitely allows my brain to dwell on things that are a little more worthwhile, which in turn allows me to be a lot more happier.
Was it Socrates that said, “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”
So best I keep developing this capacity to enjoy less until I can bear to part with my shoes!!