I believe in small spaces. Living spaces, that is. This belief can be traced back to my childhood. For Christmas one year I received a set of tiny plastic dolls. I made a home for them from an old shoebox. I cut a flap in the
cardboard for a door and I fashioned beds for them from those little squares of cotton that you find in jewelry gift boxes. The following year I was given a fully furnished two story dollhouse. I moved the family into this house but somehow it just didn’t feel right. As I explained to my father, after I had relocated them back to their original home, “They’re shoebox people.” It was true. They were shoebox people because the imaginary lives I had created for them were rooted in that simpler setting.
As an adult, the first place where I lived by
myself was an efficiency apartment. For six years, I lived in what amounted to one large room and I was quite content. Friends would visit and ask how I could stay in such a confined space. My standard answer was that a person could only be in one room at a time
anyway. Almost everything I needed was right there in front of me.
My life changed and I moved on to other spaces, all of them larger than that first spot where I had lived on my own. It has been many years since I left apartment 2C behind, but I still have dreams about it. In the dream, I
am trying to get into the apartment but I don’t have a key, or someone else already lives there. Something always blocks my entry into that place where my life was simpler and anything that mattered was within an easy reach.
The artist Hans Hoffman said that the ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.
I believe that living in a small space offered me
more oppurtunities to listen to the necessary. It gave me a quiet nest to return to each day, a place to restore my sense of self.
At the moment, I live in a small house with my teenage son. I still have less material possesions than most people I know, and that’s the way I prefer it. But someday I hope to move to a space kind of like that shoebox. A cozy little place that I know will feel just right.
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