Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What do you need?

I just read an article about the director Tom Shadyac, who directed such high-brow fare as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Evan Almighty (I couldn't find the actual article online, but here's a similar one). Shadyac once lived in a 17,000 foot mansion, but now lives in a trailer park in Malibu.

Another Hollywood cautionary tale?

No. Shadyac gave up his excess possessions by choice.

As someone who chooses to live a pretty modest life (small apartment, few possessions) I still often feel that I have too much stuff. Like Lucinda in Peter Carey's stunning novel Oscar and Lucinda, I feel lighter when I can give stuff away. (READ IT, if you haven't!)

When I see huge mansions, I wonder, what's the point? After you have a living room and office, playroom and bedroom for each of your family members (even that list seems excessive) why would you need more?

I sponsor two children, one in Mexico and one in Zambia. They are delightful children, and survive on much less than we do (obviously). As I drive through the River Oaks area of Houston, I think ... how much could these people give away to children like Bexaide and Barley? How much could they reduce their carbon footprint? Why don't they?

And then I sigh.

Because I don't want to judge others, yet I find it so hard. And I judge myself at times, for buying things I don't need and for wasting more than I should.

So, here's the crucial question: What do I need to be happy and productive? Would a cottage be enough? Meaningful work and loving friends? Do I even need books? And what about TV? - I seriously love TV.

What do you need?

Note: If you're interested in learning more about sponsoring a child in the developing world, click here to visit World Vision. They receive 4 out of 4 stars on Charity Navigator and devote 88% of funds to program, which means only 12% are spent on administrative costs and fundraising.


KGH said...

There was an article in the Seattle Times yesterday about how the days of the McMansion are passed by, and most folks are choosing to live in smaller homes. My question then, what will happen to those huge homes? Will they go the way of the large Victorian homes, and be cut into smaller apartments? That would be awesome, but I don't know if it would work if there isn't reliable transportation to those suburbs!

I used to subscribe to Cottage Living Magazine- they had floor plans you could buy to build your own 1000 sq foot places! I dream of living in a tiny abode with my family and pets- I long for a yard though...

KGH said...

Oh, and Kevin and I sold my car- we have one, and it's working great! We're walking more, using the bus and it's rad!