“When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”
— Desiderius Erasmus
As I write this post, I am richer than I have ever been... yet, at the same time, poorer*. I'm talking money.
I earn more, but I also spend more, on the kind of expenses that come with living independently. You know, grown-up things like rent and groceries. So naturally there's not much left over for things I like. Books, for example. Magazines. Shoes. Dresses. Makeup. I really enjoy beautiful things. And a teenage infatuation with magazines led me to believe that the very best was at my fingertips... designer brands, the latest fashions, exclusive products. Of course, when I had a disposable income to play with I could afford to buy those things, now and then (which is why I, unjustifiably, have a Chloe handbag and Prada purse in my possession). But those days are over! And I've had to let go of my weakness for luxury and find pleasure elsewhere.
Thankfully, what I have found is that with less choice comes more freedom. The freedom to be creative. To go without. If there's no money in my bank account, there's no need to spend time wondering where it should go and what I should do with it. So I'm left to focus on the important things. The bare essentials and the simple pleasures. Like walking to the park with the lovely dog we borrowed (because we can't afford a dog), reading newspaper articles online (because I can't afford the print version), haloumi cheese for lunch (which poor people shouldn't be able to afford, but I make sacrifices for), and kissing (that's free).
I'm more appreciative of what I do have. For example, I really do need new shoes for work since mine are beginning to fall apart at the seams. But until I can afford a new pair, I can appreciate that the ones I do have have molded to fit my foot perfectly, and remember that the scuff on the side was from the night that Andy and I were taking the rubbish to the bins downstairs and I slipped over and he made hot chocolate to console me. Heartfelt appreciation brings happiness. Maybe more than a pair of shiny new shoes.
Living with less demands organisation. You need to fit your life together like a puzzle, leaving no spaces in between, avoiding wastage. Since I share my life with my boyfriend, we collaborate. Carefully. Mindfully. Thoughtfully. We have to decide, together, what is important to us. Books! We both love books. We have more than we could ever read, but no matter. We love their potential, sitting on the shelf, getting dusty. We also love good food that we can enjoy together. Serial killer documentaries. (Fascinating, really!) Dogs. Altogether, coming home to our loving, warm apartment with good books and good food and happy memories.
So maybe the first sentence I wrote should have been the other way around... I am poorer than I have ever been, yet richer than I could ever imagine. Now, isn't that better?
"I may still not know what I want to be when I grow up, but I do know that someday I want to live in a house filled with my books and travel souvenirs. And the walls that aren’t covered in bookshelves will be covered with photos of my family and friends. When I leave the house I will be going to a job I love, and I’ll return to a person I love. So, that’s the dream I’m working on."
— Amber Morely