Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Live Large or Pare Down?

The front page of Tuesday's L.A. Times had two separate articles each about a man and his living situation. One is the story of how someone is currently living his life day-to-day and the other is a story of dreams and plans. I found the contrasts in the attitudes about what it takes to be comfortable and happy in regards to one's shelter and environs to be fascinating.

On the far left of the front page (Column 1) there was the story of Glenn Morrissette, who orchestrates scores for TV and film from his recording studio on wheels, which is an RV that he travels around the country in. Morrissette isn't just another itinerant musician. If you watch "Family Guy," then you have most likely heard his music.

As told in the article, nearly two years ago, the 41-year-old Morrissette looked around his Burbank apartment and realized his belongings had taken over. "Careless consumerism" is how he describes it.
"I was looking at all the stuff I owned that I never used. It was costing me money to have an apartment big enough to hold it all," he said.

He made a list of the things he needed to be happy. "It was a pretty short list," he was surprised to discover: his woodwind instruments, his laptop, a week's worth of clothing, a good book and an electric razor.

The rest he sold or gave away.

Morrissette writes about his scale-back on his blog called "ToSimplify."

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On the lower right corner of the front page there was the story of the owner of a parcel of land in toney Benedict Canyon who wants to build a mega-mansion. If the owner, who refuses to be identified but is described as a single father of three whose family would occupy the grounds only occasionally, gets his way, the parcel will host a 42,681-square-foot main house, a double-winged "son's villa" of more than 27,000 square feet, a 4,400-square-foot guest house, a 5,300-square-foot staff quarters and a 2,700-square-foot gatehouse. Those and other proposed structures would occupy a combined area larger than the Griffith Park Observatory.

Even if I had the mega-bucks to build the mega-mansion, I think I'd be more inclined to follow in the path of Morrissette the musician.

It just so happens I've been trying to get rid of a lot of stuff lately. I'm in my simple and uncluttered phase. It's amazing how much stuff one can accumulate in a lifetime. I doubt I'd go so far as to hit the road in an RV carrying everything I own, (I've never considered driving to be relaxing or a form of recreation) but I sure do love the 1,000 square feet of cottage I live in. Everything fits and there is no threat of the Hoarders people doing an intervention and getting a reality TV show episode out of it.

In fact, one of the things I like about traveling is that it forces me to choose the physical objects that make me the happiest and fit them into a carry-on bag and leave everything else behind. These days, what I'm most likely to take with me is my iPad, my iPhone, my Patagonia fleece sweater, a comfortable pair of blue jeans and a few t-shirts. When it comes down to clothes and personal possessions, I really don't need anything else. And I sure wouldn't know what to do with 42,000 square-feet of mega-mansion.
© 2011 by Craig Smith and