My Quest for Less

A while back I posted about simplifying life.  But there was a time (actually there are many times) when I desired more.  Let me lay down one of the scenarios for you. It all started with piano lessons for our 6 year old son (who is very adamant that he is NOT taking piano lessons). But we are very adamant that he IS. Because Earl and I are both musicians. And that’s what we do. And because we’re in charge. And because piano is good for you. But mostly because we’re in charge.

Anyway, Earl and I had an argument over our piano. Currently, our piano is in our studio which is separate from the house. It’s really a glorified shed with heat & electricity, where we practice our instruments and teach our lessons. Earl thought it would be a good idea to move the piano into the house. I could see the benefits and I was on board. Except when I did the measurements, it didn’t add up. It wasn’t going to fit. I mean “technically” it would fit, but we would have to give up precious square footage in order to do it. I was in the midst of purging “stuff” from our house and I wasn’t willing to pour more things back into it.

Earl was disappointed. The piano mover was coming the next day and he would have to call and cancel. He was so upset, he wasn’t speaking to me. We very rarely argue. We’re very considerate of each other and we usually share the same thoughts. I remember being equally upset, “We need a bigger house! We should be able to put our piano in our house!”  I finally came to my senses. We bought our house with the studio in mind and we really did have enough room for our family. We would just have to walk out to the studio to practice, which is really not all that inconvenient.

As we were hashing this out at the kitchen table, I’ll admit I was a bit wishy-washy (I need a bigger house! No, I have too much!) I guess this was my deluded thinking:  if I can’t have what I want, then I want to live with much less. Somewhere in the conversation Earl strongly reminded me that he did not want to live in a plastic bottle house in Africa. Whoa, whoa! Who said I wanted to live in a plastic bottle house in Africa? (okay, I did).

I’m looking for a simpler life. I’m searching for gratitude. Not that I want to park my tent next to the homeless people in Willimantic, or contract Malaria so I can appreciate health care.  I’m totally grateful. I know I’m blessed. But I also know that half the world’s people live on $2 per day. $2 per day! And I’m concerned that my piano doesn’t fit in my house? The fact of the matter is, when you surround yourself with people who don’t go without, the only things you can see are the things you don’t have. This was an “aha” moment for me.  Africa was my dream, not Earl’s. And I was determined to go.  As part of my “quest for less.”

So, my friends. I’m doing it. God willing,  I am going to Africa!  I will share all of my juicy tid-bits with you next time. I know it sounds crazy and I’ve doubted myself often, but it’s what I need to do.  And I’ve decided that my quest for less is so much more exciting than having it all. :)

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  1. I am enjoying your quest for less. We are having a similar journey at our home. My resolve is often renewed by remembering a trip to Haiti I took in college. It(and subsequent “mission” trips) has shaped my view on necessity and allows me to be far more generous with our money than I might have been otherwise. New shoes vs water filter for Haiti is a no brainer. That said, we still struggle over purchases, home improvements, etc. Finding the edge of the slippery slope can be tricky!

    • Great points, Cindy! Inevitably we’re going to purchase things that we don’t “need.” We can obviously survive with much less. I think becoming aware is what’s important. Can I reuse that container instead of buying new ones? Can I borrow something from a friend, instead of buying new? I’m blessed to live in a country full of opportunity and I’m going to have “things” but I also think we’re called to share. My quest for less is really about “how much do I need?” Because we all know “things” don’t make us happy. Thanks for reading and for sharing your insights!

  2. I was praying about the same type of gratefulness this morning. Do you want a companion? I need this in my life. A refocusing. Let me know. I’m serious.

    • Jen, yes! I was just thinking in the shower (where all good ideas come to me) “wouldn’t it be great if someone I knew could come along?” Coincidence? Or God speaking? I will share my juicy tid-bits in tomorrow’s post. I am not leading the team, but I can connect you with the woman who is!

  3. You’ve inspired me to clear the clutter. I just have to find the time to do it. Working full time and two kids barely leaves me a minute to breathe. I am starting to realize that the few minutes I can spare here and there to de-clutter will make me feel so much better. I can’t wait to hear more about Africa! Very intrigued.

    • Oh believe me. My house still has clutter, but I’m working on it. It does take a lot of time to go through everything. I keep thinking I’ll tackle it all once both kids are in school full-time :)

  4. Jana, A great book I have read a several times is Richard Foster’s “Celebration of Discipline” he also wrote “Celebration of Simplicity” these are in the same thoughts as you are mentioning in this blog post, and have really helped me though out the years get back focused on what it really important .. and all that “stuff” that isn’t.

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