I’m going to take a diversion from my usual dental & marketing commentary and go down a personal road…Frost’s “the one less traveled by” and all that jazz. This post and the experience from which it is written owes much to Leo Babauta and his ideas expressed on ZenHabits.
In November, 2011 I wrote about escaping your comfort zone. Then a month later, I did just that, both figuratively and, I suppose, literally. We hired movers, packed up our belongings, and drove 4 days across the country. We moved from beautiful, green Tennessee to hot, arid Arizona. We were a two car family, but since one of them was quite old we elected to sell it rather than pay to move it or drive it across the nation. From nearly the first day in Arizona I was intent on buying a car to replace the one we had sold. However, we had moving bills to pay and other associated hassles that necessitated putting a car purchase on the back burner.
One of those hassles was getting our phone/internet/cable TV activated in our new apartment. For some reason, only one provider services our area. And to make matters crazier, cable TV & internet wasn’t an option – only satellite (DirecTV) and DSL. We hesitantly contacted DirecTV. No, we didn’t want the premium package. No, we didn’t care that the premium channels were free for the first month. No, we just want a basic package. And no, we don’t want to call back in a month to convert our “free” premium package to the basic package that we just want to buy today. To our dismay and bewilderment, the company was simply unwilling to grant our simple request not to take their “free premium channels for the first month” offer. And we were simply unwilling to go through more hassle after one month to call back and try to convert to what we wanted in the first place. Then the first light bulb came on. Why did we even need cable (or satellite) TV in the first place? We quickly subscribed to Netflix and bought a video streaming box. Just enough for our television habits. It somehow felt just a little liberating.
One big hassle down, it soon became time to address our transportation “needs”. Namely, it was time to get that second car. However, as time passed, and for whatever reason – trying to unpack & learn a new town, the realities of the new job, the energy sapping heat – I lost interest in getting a second car. Then the second light bulb switched on. We didn’t NEED a second car. I had assumed that one car was simply not enough. But we were able (due among other things to the proximity of our apartment to the office) to get by just fine with one car. To my surprise, all it takes is some simple planning and communication. Now, almost overnight, we’re a one car family. And for us one car is enough.
Now other bulbs are starting to light up. We don’t need lots of stuff and more things. We’re working now to pare down other possessions like furniture and clothes. By removing excess stuff from our living space, we’re finding that we’re also removing excess clutter from our lives. This is helping us to focus. This is helping me to cut out the noise, understand what I really value, and pay attention to what is important.
And with little effort over a short period of time what I once may have considered to be not enough was revealed under closer scrutiny actually to be too much. I look forward to narrowing it down to just enough.