In her book, My Grandfather’s Blessing (click here to view the book), Rachel Naomi Remen shares a story about playing with a friend’s 6 year old son. This young boy had two Hot Wheel cars and they had fun racing them around the house together. This little guy loved these cars, he dreamed about them and enjoyed them so much that Rachel wanted to get him one of every Hot Wheel car in the collection.
She did find a way to get him every car in the collection and was so happy to give them to him. However, once he had them all, he stopped playing with them. He had lined them up on the window sills, but he no longer raced his cars around the house.
When Rachel asked him about this, his answer was that he didn’t know how to love this many cars.
Reading this touched me so deeply. I knew exactly how this boy felt. Having more didn’t make him love the cars more, having more was overwhelming. Having more actually stopped the flow of his joy in playing with and dreaming about the cars. Having more created too many choices, so he couldn’t choose any.
In our consumerist society, we are conditioned that having more will satisfy us, fix us, and make us happy. However, it doesn’t really work this way. Having more and buying more can actually clutter up our lives, we can’t even take in all that we have around us. It is just too much.
When my husband and I were house hunting, we went through some homes with closets and cupboards that were bursting with ‘stuff’. I remember saying to my husband that there is no way these people even know what they actually own because there is just too much. It felt oppressive and heavy to be in these homes.
When we have this much stuff around us, we do not even see what we actually have. This can diminish our enjoyment and our gratitude for what we do have. When we have too much, we shut down and close off. We can be left with a sense of being unfulfilled and at a loss.
This is one of the paradoxes of life. Often times, less is more. There is actually a sense of freedom that comes to us when we have less in our lives. We begin to come more alive and to really see, touch and feel what is around us. The simple things, like having only two cars that we can race around and enjoy fully, can bring more satisfaction than having so many choices that we feel overwhelmed.
For myself, I think this is why I enjoy moving so much. When I move, I pare down my belongings to the essential items I want to take with me. I lighten the load, so to speak, and it brings a sense of inner freedom, and mobility. It also brings a sense of deep appreciation for the belongings that I do want to take with me. Giving the excess away and paring down to the essentials actually lightens my heart and leaves me feeling more fulfilled and happy.
Have you ever had that feeling – when more is simply too much and it overwhelms you?
Living from enough is finding that balance where we are able to truly love, savour and enjoy what we have.