Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Simplifying and Downsizing the Good Way

And What I Think About It...

The book lying beside me (This Way of Life, edited by Maude Longwell, published in 1971 by Farm Journal, Inc.) is a book of short excerpts from country women's letters to the editors of Farm Journal. It's exactly the sort of book I'd pick up from the stacks at a used book or estate sale.

However, I didn't buy it. It was given to me by an internet friend from Illinois, an elderly gentleman whom I met face to face just one time at an internet bulletin-board get-together. I'll call him Don.

Don knew me well enough from our mutual participation in a cyber community to think I might enjoy this book. When he was going through a time of decreasing his possessions, he mailed it to me. His inscription inside the book reads, "To Genevieve. May this book bring you pleasure and increase your zest for living. Don."

Since this book is a collection of little stories, you can open it to any page anytime and read as much as you feel like. I've enjoyed it many times, and it always makes me think of Don. He's in his 70's, and he copes with poor health as well as providing much of his wife's care. The book also reminds me of my childhood because Farm Journal was one of the magazines my father read, and there were parts of it that I read too!

I admire the way Don decided to give away some of his lifetime accumulation to his friends and family. I think you don't have to mourn the loss of your "stuff" so much if you can give it away thoughtfully to people who will truly understand and appreciate its value.

I hope when the time comes for me to seriously depopulate my bookshelves (and all the other storage spaces and caches of knickknacks, etc.), I'll be able to follow Don's example. I hope I don't selfishly cling to everything I own, and then it all ends up being sold to strangers because the kids don't want it!


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A year ago on Valentine's Day, I posted a photo of Hopkinsville's Founder's Square and wrote about events I had attended there.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.