Today is Sunday and I woke up to my room’s window light: It’s past noon. I know this is going to be a slow day. My roommate watches a movie on his laptop until nightfall, bedtime and we will both go to work tomorrow. Of course I treasure some leisure time to run my weekly errands (which I had put off front the weekdays).
I had several occasions to reflect on my experience in India so far. There are occurring themes:
On Simple Living.
What living is simple? No fridge, no kitchen, no hot water, no heater/AC and definitely no TV. My room is 3.5m by 3.5m - enough room for my morning push-ups, some weight exercise (and quite silly sometimes, jogging). Kolkata Winter is cold - and you won’t be able walk bare-footed without falling sick. I continue to hand-wash my clothes once every two or three days. Other than that, I care about keeping my place clean, my stuff tidy and my bed warm and comfy.
I’d like to lay my back on the thick mattress, on top of a wooden bed. It is not luxurious, but I find it comfortable - in fact, my best sleep is on this bed.
An asset is a liability - Big house needs cleaning; equipment needs using; garden needs mowing and a car needs much more attention. I have seen men entertaining his gadgets, women bottled up by their clothing checklist.
In everything we do, we do it faster, better; we fight to have an additional 15 minutes of free time ‘so we can do other things’. And yet, those precious hard-earned minutes are taken by liabilities we have built for ourselves from the very objects that are supposed to lighten our well-being.
The cost of buying something, say a DSLR Camera (which I have), is a lot more than the price tag on the store. You’re also declaring you’re giving up what you otherwise would have bought, you’re cutting hours from your free time (say, for to take pictures in the park) and thus the things you could have otherwise done with those time.
Of course there is nothing wrong with having a big house if your (large) family needs a living space, a garden if you have children (and you want to give a safe playing ground), a car if you need to fetch your spouses & children for work and school. A well-spent party outfit can make the night. After all, every asset yields some returns. In fact, vacation photography has become a time-treasured emotional therapy for me.
The danger is in the hidden opportunity cost in time, money & energy - what you have given up while being so preoccupied with servicing your liabilities. Man, assuming a hardworking income earner, does not have too much time left to themselves. And choices of those little hours, matter.
A flat with fewer objects keeps us focused on our people, our mind & our daily emotions. More importantly, we would then have the time to screen our values.
I do recognize that wealth (and the act of accumulating wealth in the home), for many, is extremely therapeutic. It reassures them of their competitive economic ability as they fall back on their bed at the end of a bad day. I must also say quite unfortunately such notion becomes their yardstick of personal success. “I am working hard this 3 months to save up for a new home loudspeaker system” - so yes, that is the meaning of life that they cling onto for that period. Life is a series of such home/comfort dreams.
I don’t deny I have such comforting wants. They are tempting. I have always wanted to have Rachmaninov concertos played over a BOSE loudspeakers in my home, indeed.
A home is a lifestyle. What you put in your home, and how they look essentially enables you (or disables you therefore) of a quick regeneration of your heart, mind and body such that you can rise undefeated the next morning, despite how bad the previous day was.
Here in this empty flat, I learned I need a hot shower, body exercise, a good night sleep, a quiet peaceful view & a friend to get ready for the next day. In the future, I can furnish my flat to enhance my experiences with those. They are my assets - and I am ready to handle those liabilities. But I don’t think I’d like a TV.