I recently spent about 6 months living with little more than a sleeping bag and a few clothes since my luggage was in storage until I had a permanent place. At first, living without basic household articles was a hassle. I did eventually buy a few essentials, such as a cooking pot, a spoon and a broom. When the six months was up and my goods finally arrived, I was surprised at how little it really takes me to live. Many of the luxuries I was used to were in fact still available, of course. Instead of watching TV at home, I went to daytime movies at the theater. And I ate out a little more often.
After my boxes finally arrived, I couldn't believe how much useless stuff I've acquired. Countless books that have now been through several moves without once being opened. Clothes that fit thinner versions of myself. Keepsakes that are kept stored in boxes everywhere I go. I'm determined that this will be the last time I cart this junk around. Every chance I get, I'm going to take boxes to the Goodwill and try to get free of this crap cluttering up my closets.
This experience makes me wonder--Am I so different from others in my material needs? Do large houses and garages full of trinkets really make people happier? In my own case, I find that material goods bring incremental happiness only to a certain point, after which the work required to buy them and the hassle of maintaining them offsets any convenience they could bring.
For this reason, I love the idea of a library--a communal area where people can borrow things without having to buy them. I don't know why we don't have more places that function like libraries. It seems to me that every town should have a public TV watching place where anyone can come in, sit on a couch together, and watch TV or play a game of chess. And there should also be public gyms and public places that lend power tools--there's really no point in every person on the block owning something they only use a couple times a year. I also don't see why houses are built so large. I don't want or need a $300,000 house. A small house with two bedrooms would do just fine. But everything in my neighborhood is huge. Sometimes I get the feeling that our whole economy is supersized. Myself, I'd like the lite version, the bare wooden floor with a small tatami mat, a pot to boil water, and a tiny shelf of books.