So last week, my husband and I left our little house in the big woods and headed to the big city. We both had business-related things to do, but we also wanted to squeeze in some fun, too.
We enjoyed our time in the big city, but as always, I was reminded that less is more in rural areas.
A trip to the Mall of America
When a friend of mine traveling from out of town suggested we meet for an early dinner, I picked the Mall of America as a meeting place. It was close to where we both would be and an easily identifiable location for two out-of-towners to find. I am not a fan of malls in general, especially one as large as the Mall of America, but I was willing to make the sacrifice to meet up with a friend.
My husband and I got to the Mall of America early, so we had some time to wander the Mall. We watched as a mom and her daughters hauled a load of Nordstrom’s shopping bags out to their car and then went back in to shop more. We saw store after store peddling things that people don’t need at prices no one should pay. We saw a place that only does hair blow-outs (no wash, no cut, just styling with a blow dryer) for $40 each.
It made me hyperventilate a little. Where I live, there are very few opportunities to shop like that. And even if I did have that opportunity, I couldn’t ever see myself taking it. It’s just stuff. Overpriced stuff. Who needs a giant stuffed Angry Birds Darth Vader for $99? Or a $30 hot pink rhinestone-studded iPhone case?
Sticking to what we need
Since the start of the new year, I’ve been following a less is more mantra, and now that the year is almost done, I can honestly say that it has changed my whole outlook on buying things. I just don’t buy as much stuff as I used to, and it is saving me money.
Case in point: While we were in the big city, we also took a bunch of kid items to a children’s consignment shop (there isn’t much for consignment shops where I live), and we made $65. (Less stuff, more money in my pocket!) And even though I was in a store full of secondhand goods, I resisted buying more. The kids don’t really need anything in particular right now. The old me would have bought a few things because I was there. Because it was cheap. Because it was cute.
But through the lens of a “less is more” filter, I can see that I don’t need to buy things just to buy things. The kids don’t need 10 different shirts when they only like to wear the same five anyway.
Even though we walked past plenty of stores at the Mall of America, I wasn’t drawn into any of them. There wasn’t anything I needed. Controlling the amount of stuff coming into my home and keeping my money in my wallet was more important to me then bringing something new and shiny home.
A different perspective
Over dinner, my friend and I once again had a discussion about why I live where I live. You see, he doesn’t understand why I would tolerate ridiculously slow and overpriced internet service when I could just move somewhere with high speed internet.
But I know why I live here. It’s because less is more. Poor internet service means that we unplug more often. Living in an area where you can’t just hop in the car and go buy whatever you want or need in less than five minutes forces you to get creative with what you have. We have more space, which means I can grow more food and buy less at the store. There are less people, which means more quiet and solitude. There’s less rushing and more time to just pause and appreciate nature’s beauty.
Whenever you make a choice – whether it is what you buy or where you live, there are trade-offs. I would much rather live in a place where I’m not constantly bombarded with consumerism. I would much rather be surrounded by the beauty of the woods than the starkness of skyscrapers and freeways. I would much rather save my money than clutter up my home with things I don’t really need.
Less is more in a rural area.