Urban Adaptation

Sustainable urban living, rural dreams, and daily change for a homemade life.

Posts Tagged ‘Thoreau

Grateful without

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A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.  – Henry David Thoreau

While I am always grateful for what I have, more and more these days I find myself being grateful for some of the things that I don’t have.  I know for some of the people I know that this is odd.  To be grateful for what you have isn’t all that exceptional, but to be grateful for the things you don’t have – other than, say, major health issues or a heavy mortgage – isn’t all that common in my experience.

I am grateful for not having a car, a washer and dryer, a dishwasher, or a cell phone.  I’m grateful that I don’t have the financial burden of paying for or maintaining them.  Although my hope is that this will change someday, I am grateful for not having a mortgage.  I’m also grateful that I have ways to get by without them.  That I can walk, or bike, or take the bus.  That I can wash clothes in the tub, or a sink, or a bucket.  That I actually rather like sudsy water and the act of making dirty dishes clean.  That I have a landline, a laptop, and easy wireless access.  That I have an apartment now and that someday, with any luck, I will have enough saved to get that mortgage.

I am grateful without these things, certainly – I have enough in my life, certainly, and so much that is better than a few appliances and techno-gadgetry. I’m grateful for family, for friends, for food, and for shelter (and, admittedly, I’m especially grateful this afternoon for books and a guitar).  I don’t need more than what I have, and not having these things does not diminish my life in any way, or detract from my gratitude for the things that I do have.

But I am also grateful that I do not have them, which seems to me a bit of a separate thing.  I’m grateful that I’ve learned to be without them, and that being without them is simply normal, even pleasurable sometimes, and not deprivation.  I’m grateful that I’ve learned that there alternatives to what so many people seem to accept as a given, if not some inalienable right granted by the gods of credit and debt.

There are moments when I whinge and moan, as most people do, I think.  Moments when the dishes and laundry are piled too high, the grocery stores seems thousands of miles away, and it would be easier to call home on a phone in my pocket rather than one across campus.  But these moments are the exceptions, and are far from the rule.

There’s more that I would like to cut out, I think.  More that I would like to be grateful about not having.  I hope to make some of these changes soon.  But for now, I’m grateful – grateful for what I have just as much as for what I don’t.  It’s a good feeling this gratitude, especially when it works more than one way.

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Written by Jenn

April 10, 2011 at 1:51 pm