Enough Is More Than Plenty

Carolyn - Austin, Texas
Entered on June 5, 2007

I believe in living small. I am blessed with family and friends, who offer me all the joy I need. I am lucky that my husband makes enough money so our family of four can live in a modest 1,250-square-foot house. Our two kids have their own rooms, and we have a lovely view of the backyard, where the trees tower over our roof. I like it when nature is grandiose.

We have enough to eat. We cook our own meals usually because that’s what we can afford, and because my daughter doesn’t need a $10 grilled cheese sandwich with an extra large order of fries. That’s too much food and too much money. She’s only seven.

I buy most of our clothes from yard sales. I’m hardly surprised anymore at the brand-new shirts and dresses – with tags on – that people get rid of. Usually, for about $1. Our neighbors, who are in similar income brackets, swap children’s clothes, depending on who has grown out of what. It’s practical to share, and it’s gentler on the planet. I like using what I have, and not what an advertiser, a telemarketer or a corporation tells me that I need.

Our couch came used from Craigslist. It’s a little worn, but perfect for two kids who like to jump on the sofa and make forts out of cushions. We have one small TV, that usually is closed up inside a cabinet. That’s about all the squawking from a box that we need.

Both our cars are used, economy-sized sedans, which have survived several cross-country trips, though it is unnerving to drive alongside a herd of pachyderm-sized vehicles on the highway. When I park in a big lot, it’s always easy to spot my car. It’s often the only one that’s not an SUV.

We still have many nice things. We celebrate birthdays with homemade cakes and hand-printed cards. We take trips to museums and zoos. We bicycle. Sometimes we splurge on a nice hotel, or a plane trip to visit relatives. We have fun.

I see in the world around me everything ballooning out of shape. Cars are the size of school buses, houses are as big as convention centers, shopping malls are the size of the Pentagon. It seems greedy to take more than my share of water, electricity, gas, ozone, food and goods. I think bigger is blander, and when everything is too big, the earth’s infinitesimal beauty gets blocked out. If everyone lived smaller, perhaps there would more for those who have little.

Even now, when I look inside my crowded closets and stuffed cabinets, I feel wasteful and disrespectful of the fact that my life is full. It’s like winning a race with an unfair advantage. It’s easy to be outlandish if you have enough money. But not everybody can be satisfied with what they already have.

I have exactly enough to live a lovely life, and I believe that having enough is more than plenty.