Decluttering teaches me some basic wisdom. Going through old things, getting rid of many of them (including some postcards and notes from friends, which is a heart-ripping activity) the old idea downs on me. We spend so much of our life worrying about things and money – but in the end of the day it’s people that matter.
We spend our lives working hard for money, buying stuff, accumulating things – and then we discover that we need to declutter, to get rid of much in order to get a better quality of life. Time flies. We may stress over various aspects, focus on different areas of our life. But at certain times we cast a look over all our possessions and realize that all that hardship and stress was unnecessary. As someone reminded, on their deathbed people don’t ask for their diplomas, trophies or things – they want to be surrounded by the people that matter to them.
Somewhere on the subway I have seen a commercial for the storage services, and it had this tagline: “The more you live, the more space you need”. It referred to different kinds of people, sport enthusiasts, parents, nonconformists, who collect things and need extra space to store them. Something felt wrong with this tagline. And then my man expressed this for me: “This sentence is wrong. The more you live – the less space you should need”. Right!
The more I live, the less space I want to need. I want to have less things. I hope, I have surpassed the age of gathering and accumulating. Now I want to live with less. Just few things of good quality – instead of stuff upon stuff. As I like to say: I don’t need much – just the best 🙂 In my view, adulthood is the period in life when quantity gives way to quality. In clothes, in things, in activities, in relationships.
Quality of life. What does it mean? There was a lady who once made a very good point about it. We were standing at a Spanish reunion in Oslo, holding wine glasses and nabbing at some tapas. Discussing life in Norway versus life in Spain. And she said: “Well, what is quality of life? I would say, there is a standard of life and a quality of life. The standard is really high here in Norway. The housing, the infrastructure, the incomes, the social services. But the quality of life is better in the Mediterranean. The food, its many festivals, the climate, the social life”.
And even though it had passed many years since, I still remember well this speech of hers. Because when we talk about quality of life, we tend to mix up all kind of things in one definition. For some it is the level of childcare and school education, for some it is the salary, for others it is the richness of the social life or climate. And then it is difficult to navigate in this mix of ideas. But when we divide one thing from another (“slice that cake” as it is usual to say in sociology), we can have better understanding – with ourselves and with each other.
I have arrived at the time in my life when I want to choose the quality of life over its standard (and lucky I am who can choose to do so). It can definitely go at the expense of the standard of life. But I want to try. To try and see for myself what really matters to me, what kind of material I am made of and how I want to live my life. I find myself ready to have less space for things – and more space for people. But everything is to be tested with real life experience. I am looking forward to it.
How do you understand the idea of the quality of life? What does it mean to you?