the elegance of paring back

This week I pare back


Last Saturday I ate almost half a jar of anchovies in one sitting. It was a purposeful binge; I was emptying the jar so that I could use it as a vase for the dinner party I was hosting. I had four guests that night because I only have five plates. And we ate cheese after from off a piece of firewood I found out back.

Such are the details of my life since I started living out of a tin shed and a suitcase.

You see, eleven weeks ago I set off to live in a small corrugated iron cottage in the bush – partly to try something new, partly by way of writing sabbatical. I reduced everything I needed – clothes, swim goggles, favourite teapot, stick blender, Le Crueset pot – to one case (plus my computer, bike and ergonomic swivel chair). I could’ve packed more – I had a whole car to fill. But once I started asking myself whether I really needed a fourth pair of undies or oregano flakes or house slippers my list of life essentials shrank. And shrank.

No one needs five pairs of undies. When you think about it.

Almost three months on, I have two observations to share.

First, I’ve not missed a thing. Sure, I’ve had to make a few compromises, like eating a small school of hairy fish, and my soup with a dessertspoon. But they’ve been small.

Second, the experiment has made me inordinately and surprisingly happy.

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