While we were moving, I tried to cook with minimal tools. I had some success as I attempted to use up all the things in my pantry and in my refrigerator before we made the big trip east.
Surprisingly, I made one new recipe by buying one leek and adding it to ingredients I already had; and I was able to make a pan of pretty good chocolate chip cookies (it must be admitted that the sugar was rather old). It is amazing what you can do without when you need to do so. It gave me pause to consider how many things I have, as opposed to how many things I really need.
I thought I had downsized quite a bit when we moved out to Washington state. However, as I packed everything back up, I realized that while I had unloaded some things, I had on-boarded other things: ultimately, more stuff. Some items made sense at the time, and some items made no sense at all! For example, I purchased a number of clothing items that I ultimately didn’t wear because of weather differences between the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest; some kitchen items to recipes and then Rick moved to second shift and I abandoned most of my cooking. As I packed, wondered if I would actually use any of those things in our new Wisconsin home.
I’m not sure I yet understand the process for determining which things to keep. I find I keep things because I know the disappointment of discovering that when I have given something away I need about two weeks later. And then have to replace it. Thus my aversion to giving things away.
In the summer of 2001 Rick and I were able to take a cross-country trip on a borrowed Harley. We were limited in what we could take in one backpack and the two saddlebags for the motorcycle. It was a experience of minimalist vacationing for five days which was surprisingly wonderful! I didn’t need to decide which pair of earrings I would wear each day because I only had one pair to choose from. So many decisions were removed from my purview with those limitations. Lesson One: Freedom is the absence of choice.
This axiom was true in the waning days of packing up in Everett. As I packed many of my beloved items as well as many of my utilitarian items, I had lots less choices and much more enthusiasm for trying to make something work from a minimalist perspective such as mixing up chocolate chip cookies in the pot traditionally used to make popcorn and pasta.
On reflection, I think part of the reason I was so interested in getting new things in my home was that, for several years, our income had been somewhat limited. To have the resources to spend on what I wanted was a nice pleasurable feeling; however, the additional income made it too easy to just buy something for the whim of buying it because I wanted it. Lesson Two: It is better to want what you have, not have what you want.
This business of ownership and stewardship is such a human thing. But, making the cookies in the popcorn pot reminded me that I can usually employ what I already have to make what I want. Much like the delight I experienced on our minimalist vacation, I experienced much satisfaction in those cookies. First, it was delight because I hadn’t baked cookies in about three years; and secondly, it was surprise because I was able to make those cookies in spite of having limited resources with which to do it.
Lesson Three: Lessons will be repeated until learned.