The Art of Simple
This past year has been one of beauty and challenge for us as we’ve lived as a family of 6 in a 3rd story, 1,200 square foot apartment. As we prepare to move out in upcoming months, a person asked me if I felt sad about leaving. Part of me thought I should laugh and reply “of course not!” But something within caused me to pause and I thought about it for a moment and realized that living in a small space for the past year has been a rich privilege indeed.
We have a small storage unit filled with things that we coudn’t fit in our temporary living space, and we sold quite a bit before we moved in. What were we left with? The necessities. And you know what? We have lived in several different homes over the years, this being one of the smallest, and I found that I have more wealth than I ever did – even when we came from our last home with a lovely yard, ample space and wonderful neighbors. I found that things are things and relationships are what make you most rich indeed.
When I simplified my life, I was free to enjoy the things that truly mattered. Cleaning was a cinch. And when the furniture only fits one or two ways, you choose contentment and are freed up to put your creative energy into something else. I took up wet felting and continued in embroidery and baking. And it’s been freeing and beautiful and wonderful.
And the children…friends, it hasn’t been perfect or all storybook type living over here because small space living comes with its’ challenges too. When you walk into IKEA, 500 square feet all of the sudden becomes romantic, but let me just tell you, all those neat and organized spaces don’t stay in tact when there are children. Life happens, the nice apartment carpet gets stained, the kids invade eachother’s privacy and the introverts scatter to find respite (including me). Perhaps the beauty lies in the fact that we can do hard things and hard things make us stronger.
We’ve learned to explore the edges of creativity like using closets and balconies and bathrooms to play and find quiet. We’ve laughed when mom burned dinner and the whole apartment smokes up because it’s small. We’ve put noisemakers on to block out the barking dogs below and black-out curtains have outfitted our windows to keep the timed lights out. But we’ve found love here in this place and we’ve found home because home isn’t a place, it’s where all your people are.
So, yes…yes, there will be some sadness in our hearts when we walk down the three flights of stairs for the last time. And we will offer our thanks to the One who changes us forever with the things that seem impossible. This is the art of simple.
“But always, what remains constant is our deep need for home, and the importance of it in our lives. Play and work, connection and family, retreat and sanctuary – home is where this happens. Even more than that, the very energy that we put into making our shelters into our homes – tending our hearth, creating our space – feeds us, fuels us, comforts us and shelters us all at the same time. In the end, this is what lasts and has meaning: the making of a home. The shelter itself? Well, maybe in the end, like the bittersweet growth of a child, it gets washed away by the tide? Perhaps. But certainly what remains is the love that build it.”
-Amanda Soule (editor of Taproot Issue 16:Shelter