Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Viver com menos: 10 coisas que não me fazem falta / Living with less: 10 things that I don't miss

O texto em português foi publicado na revista Papel no dia 2 de Maio e pode ser lido aqui.

and now in English

Living with less when you already own very little can certainly be a problem. But deciding to live with less when you have way more than enough could mean living a better life. This is what this text is about.
Below is a list of things which I don't miss in my life and that in addition, I believe their absence makes me happier. I am in no way suggesting that owning these things is negative, only sharing the fact that I don't own them and have found – in some cases with surprise - that their absence brought me additional well-being. Some of them have gradually disappeared along the years, sometimes by accident and never came back, although at some point in the past I have considered them to be essential. Others have never been a part of my life.
Microwave: I used to have one, but apart from the first couple of years, when I tried out some recipes, its use quickly resumed to heating water for coffee and soup bowls. More recently, after reading some scary research papers about the microwave effects over food, it became restricted to heating water – after all, the possible recombinations of one oxygen and two hydrogen molecules didn't seem that dangerous. Once it broke down, I felt relived. I gained a lot of extra space in the kitchen counter and I had one thing less to clean up.
Iphone, ipad, ipod: I have a tendency to get absorbed in my own thoughts and become oblivious of the world around me (I know...). This is why I don't like to carry too many things around with me. I'm afraid I'll lose them, drop them on the floor and get them broken, or (when traveling) being robbed. In addition, when I am outdoors, I like to focus on whatever I went out to do instead of being (even more) distracted, either with gadgets or anything else.
Watch: I've always owned one and was constantly looking at it, until the day I lost it. I've got used to living without it and although meanwhile I've found it (at the bottom of the picnic basket), I never wanted it back. I was left thinking that someone who takes a watch to a picnic probably needs to rethink his priorities... And I found out that a watch is something superfluous in this world where the time is everywhere: on the mobile phone, the car's dashboard, the radio, on the TV in every coffee shop corner, on the numerous electronic outdoor ads... you name it. In fact, these days what is really difficult is not knowing what time it is. A picnic can - and should - be one of those rare occasions.
Cable TV (or satellite or similar): we don't watch that much TV around here. There are so many other cool things to do... And if we look closely, when you have internet access, TV becomes a little redundant.
A capsule coffee machine: I love coffee but as long as it keeps working, I won't trade my old filter coffeemaker (which is about to complete 20 years) by anything else. I couldn't possibly replace it by something that would make me throw away a piece of aluminum for each coffee I drank. I know capsules can be recycled, but I firmly believe that we should first reduce the amount of garbage we produce, and only when we can't avoid producing it, should we think about recycling.
Electrical kettle: I may be wrong, but it doesn't seem practical to have another kitchen utensil spending energy, taking up space and needing to be cleaned just to heat water once in a while.
Bimby (or any other kitchen robot): I like cooking and I like teaching my kids how to cook so, as in the case of the kettle, I gladly trade an additional household appliance by extra space, energy savings and less things to clean up.
Dental braces: OK, this one was just a joke (and it doesn't count towards the list of 10), but have you noticed the huge number of people of all ages that suddenly started wearing braces? I haven't yet figured out whether this is just the result of an extremely successful orthodontic marketing campaign, or if it actually corresponds to a sudden and genuine discontent of the Portuguese about their dental alignments.
GPS: is there anything better than playing detective and finding out the way on our own? Getting lost and because of that finding the most wonderful place we didn't even dream was around the corner? Or asking directions to someone and getting to know better not just the place we are in, but the people that live in it as well?
Curtains and carpets: I used to have curtains when lived in a flat in town. But now, apart from a rooster that likes to perch on my window-sill, I have no curious neighbors and the views from the house are so lovely that it would be a crime to hide them with curtains. Besides, I would have additional things catching dust and needing to get washed and ironed. The floor, on the other hand, is wooded. Wood is warm and beautiful. Some carpets are nice too, but they also catch dust, dust mites, occasionally stains and... you guessed... they would need to get regularly washed. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against cleaning – I actually really like clean environments and maybe because of that, I prefer to eliminate from the beginning the need to dedicate more time than strictly necessary to cleaning up and use the surplus for more pleasurable activities.
A big amount of clothing: this is subjective, I know. I've never actually counted the number of clothes I own, but judging from some of my friends' wardrobes, I can say mine is quite modest. Not my merit, though. I am far from having a standard size, so I usually have trouble finding clothes that fit (they're usually either too short or too baggy) and on top of that, I don't really like shopping. Not everything is bad, though: apart from saving a lot of money, I rarely take more than 5 minutes to decide what to wear each morning – and believe it or not, this is a daily dilemma for many people.

Regardless of the personal circumstances of each of us, the consumption of non-essential goods is a matter of choice. It is possible to live with less and free up time and money for other things that we find more important – and these may not even be material possessions. But more important than this, and contrarily to what the consumerist society we live in tries to convince us every day, living with less doesn't necessarily mean failure. It can simply be an option and the starting point for a better life.

1 comment:

  1. LI n'A Papel.
    Concordo em quase todas as dez coisas. Viver com menos é mesmo viver melhor, no meu caso também.