Back to basics
We currently live in a land of great wealth.
There is an abundance of things to buy, collect, discard, and buy again — and again.
For example, high end clothing trends get tuned up in the couture houses of Paris, then get marketed by having perfectly cheek-boned models strut down a runway while buyers and designers calculate how the stuff looks and how it may play in the market place. If the brand goes big it will have a good run but then, it will get knocked off and end up eventually being sold for short money in not-so-hip outlets.
The cool dresses, shirts, gowns, scarves, hats, shoes, boots, and other accoutrements will be found in slick fashion magazines. After the mad rush to have the latest get-up subsides, said get-ups will be discarded gone and then the new designs will be retooled and the process will repeat itself for the next season. I learned all of this stuff from my wife; she knows the drill and loves get-ups — always did and always will.
At age 23, I prided myself by being able to carry everything I owned in and on top of my beat-up cars. All kinds of bikes, surfboards, guitars, clothes, books, records, and wetsuits adorned my beater rigs along with some pieces of useless assorted junk — which could be tossed.
I had no debt because I worked my way through college. There was no credit card in my wallet. Life was so simple in those days and collecting cluttering stuff was not even an option.
Furthermore, when I lived in my beater van in Daytona Beach for a year, I still held fast without collecting clutter, because if the van had died that winter my plan was to chuck what I couldn’t carry on my back, and hitchhike home to Point Judith. This doesn’t mean I didn’t have an attachment for certain things, it just meant that I had more values that were internal. And, they still are.
Things like books, ideas, and creative minds have more value to me than things.
After decades of being responsible parents and raising their kids, parents have a chance to clutch it back a little and relax. When we hit our geezer years, we find it is time to do — if we’re lucky, healthy and able — the things that have driven us throughout our lives. We have a chance to get back to basics of who we really are. We can’t flinch and must make a concerted effort to throw down for ourselves because no one else, will. We must be our own activities director on this part of our journey.
Recently, my wife and I dialed down our living space. We live on one floor and — it’s just a base camp, anyway — have gone full-tilt minimalist. The bride tricked this space out perfectly as she naturally loves to do that kind of thing. Nota Bene: I did nine dump runs of unnecessary stuff in my truck to do this move —nine. Subsequently, I’m down to about two feet of bookshelf space. I value certain books, and only certain titles make the cut. (Ahem, I do have several titles on my sailboat.)
Moreover, I’m also down to about two feet of closet space for a blazer, some shirts, three ties, three belts, a cashmere long coat, my Tilly Hats, some shoes, and my rain gear. The bride has the lioness share of the closet space. She loves clothes; more about this later. We also have some good pictures on the wall. It’s home and our dogs love the digs.
One night this summer we were having supper at the Portside and I presented an idea called “The Five Year Plan” to my wife. It went something like this: she loves the traveling thing and I don’t — I love to sail my boat — so I said, “You love to travel right? So, you go put your boots on the ground of every part of this world you want to hit. And I’m going to sail my boat aimlessly and read books and write stuff.”
“Sounds like a plan,” she said.
“Then we’ll retool the plan after five years,” I said.
I didn’t need to twist her arm. The woman works hard and knows what she wants. She was always a big traveler. We both love this plan. Cindy enjoys a short sail, and I like looking at the pictures of her travels — she and her friend Betty go to cool places. They travel hard, too. This is a win, win deal.
At this stage in our lives, I’m happy that my bride and I are still excited about where we are in life, and that we still love doing the things we love to do. This Thanksgiving, we’re grateful for what we’re capable of doing, and neither of us take this for granted.
Now, back to this clothing thing in my opening paragraph. In my wife’s travels abroad, or simply shuffling around local shops, she is hard-wired to find clothes, and good bargains. She’s haggled with the best of them at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. She understands fabrics, and styles from Beijing to Milan.
The most common thing I say to her when we go out on date night is “Where’d you get this rig?” Finally, and as expected, my wife’s clothes are impinging upon my meager closet space, but that’s okay; I got a new head sail for my boat. We’re back to basics.
Happy Thanksgiving from the McDonald-Houlihans!