Living With Less

My mother-in-law died the other day and so we just returned from another round trip to Florida for her funeral and here to Tennessee for her burial. All of which has served to remind me of the relative brevity of life and our relationship with stuff during our lives. One poignant reminder came with my wife’s request for, and receipt of, her mother’s wedding ring. It was the only thing she asked for and her father and older sister graciously agreed to it.

While in Florida, my wife and I offered to help her father start the process of going through his wife’s belongings but he was not yet prepared to deal with it and we understood. The good news is that once the time comes there won’t be that much to process since my mother-in-law was not one for owning lots of stuff. For as long as I knew her [more than 27 years] she never cared much for accumulating the things of this world. Her focus was rather on the spiritual side of life and I admired that about her.

On the very day of my mother-in-law’s burial there appeared in The New York Times an op-ed by Graham Hill titled “Living With Less. A Lot Less.” and it really resonated with me, especially in light of recent events. As Hill stated, “Intuitively, we know that the best stuff in life isn’t stuff at all, and that relationships, experiences and meaningful work are the staples of a happy life.” Hill, a successful entrepreneur who happens to live in a 420-square-foot studio in New York, summarized: “My space is small. My life is big.”

I’ve never seen a trailer behind a hearse and life is brought into stark relief when you stare into a pit dug about six feet deep and truly realize that “you can’t take it with you.” During the funeral for my mother-in-law, my wife reminded us all to keep life in its proper perspective: “Live like today is your last; love like there is no tomorrow; and laugh like you have no sorrow.” Amen to that.