Inching Toward Simplicity: Pragmatics and Prose

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sweater Weather: Bundled in Abundance


Here is practical content from Real Simple on how and where to donate old clothing.
  • Walking around New York yesterday, I walked by several homeless people before sharing some of my wealth. Still, I was troubled by the conundrum: can’t give to everyone, and wouldn’t it be better to give to a homeless coalition? I appreciated this take on panhandling by a formerly homeless individual.
  • Short and sweet: 5 ways to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

  • Prose

    Down in the basement, years ago, Tom erected a zip-up, stand-alone vinyl “closet”, for the overflow. My old nursing uniforms are still down there, as are a miscellany of odd items like graduation gowns and spare scarves.

    Packing for Presidents Day weekend in frigid Vermont, it occurred to me that I have worn the same 4 or 5 sweaters all winter. My favorite is an oversized, tweedy green men’s sweater, its hole well hidden by the roll neck collar. But Vermont seemed to call for an arsenal of woolens (I always overpack), and it occurred to me that a visit to the Port-A-Closet was in order.

    For a woman who relishes sweaters (and I also seem to feel the cold more as I age), my basement epiphany felt like Christmas. A dozen forgotten sweaters were resurrected!

    Two thoughts came immediately with the 12 sweaters. First, how blessed I am with abundance, to have a stash of items that I can manage to forget between seasons. Right after that, I realized how much less I could live with. Yes, in the first half of the winter I wished for an extra sweater or two. But I made do with my well-loved handful, thinking of an end-of-season sale that might fill things out for next year. No doubt I have done this a few years running, and then, like the squirrels in our yard, forget where I have stashed my winter stores.

    Some of the sweaters are near duplicates—surely I can give these away. Rule of thumb: if your abundance goes unnoticed and supplies doubles, surely you have some to spare!

    More abundance rediscovered this week: little snippets of reading, writing, or just plain sitting quietly. Going without TV (see Suspended Animation post), with one or two absent-minded exceptions, hasn’t been difficult at all. So far, my small episodes of reading, etc, are short attention span activities, too (has TV rotted my brain already?). But these pursuits seem to bring me back to my core self, while TV seems to help me avoid my inner life.

    Finally, grateful for a long walk in heels to and from an appointment in NYC yesterday. The woman I met with mentioned her titanium hip, her multiple surgeries. My feet ache from pounding the pavement, but I relished every moment of the cool air, my sushi meal, the overdue exercise, and the sights and sounds of Manhattan.

    There’s something about sweater weather, perhaps the added time for reflection, that sparks an “attitude of gratitude”.

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