Sunday, May 21, 2006



My last post will have informed the alert reader (Hi, Doug!) that we have arrived in Las Cruces. Yes, we have been here since April 27th, and our stuff arrived in the truck on May 3rd. Time has just been flying. There is so much to do. Unpacking, small home improvements and repairs, learning where all the services of Las Cruces can be found, and adapting to local usages.

I love it here! There's so much more diversity and life than in Bend. Birds sing before and after dawn, there are all these new plants about. We are close to campus, and we've seen many shades of skin, a full spectrum of choices and styles. The food is great, too!

We've made very good progress on adapting this house to our ease, and placing our stuff within it. The spaces are different than our last house, of course. I noticed an awkwardness before we had enough tools about. I missed having writing tools at hand, bookmarks ready to mark my page, my address book -- the little conveniences that let me do the everyday tasks of my life easily. As we started unpacking our boxes, and placing these and similar things about for use, I began to feel more and more powerful. Simple powers -- like the ability to write a grocery list -- add up to a lot of leverage on the world. I've been very happy to regain those abilities.

So, for a while, every box we opened and distributed increased my power.

Then we hit a point where the next box was more likely to be a nuisance than a help. There are a few very useful things in most boxes -- and as we go on, more and more of the stuff seems burdensome and irrelevant. I have to find a place to put it, it doesn't add any new abilities to my life, it may be only very occasionally useful, and it clutters the clean lines of sight throughout the house. We hit the point of diminishing returns.

Of course, we ended up packing more stuff than ideal. At several points, we had helpers in who packed without trimming. And I reached a point where it was easier to pack an item than to make a decision about it. So there was a small amount of stuff that I knew, even in Bend, that I didn't need to bring.

We've discovered more that seems irrelevant to our new life as we learn about the climate and our inclinations here. Some things, like the turtlenecks, are seeming blatantly useless here. Others more subtly so. So, likely more trimming of possessions to come.

I want to remember that point of diminishing returns -- how I felt as unpacking changed from adding to my life to burdening it. Ideally, I'd like my level of stuff to create that maximumly powerful point all the time. Where does stuff stop adding to my abilities and start being a drain on my time and energy? Can I get rid of all the stuff beyond that point? Now there is a good question.

Ideals are meant to be imagined, not reached. I'll move toward this one, as I can, and enjoy where I am anyway. And then there is the organizing of the stuff, for ease and convenience -- and that too works better when there is less stuff to organize.

So on I go.

May you move ever closer to the ideal level of possessions.