Who is not concerned about his weight? We are either too heavy, too thin or a part of the bod is just not proportional to what we think the perfect body should look like. We spend a lot of time and money on diets, massage, gyms, personal trainers, Tai Chi, surgery and an endless list of other methods to change the living organism that came into the world some time ago.
I will not even go there. Let us put aside our bodies and how much they weigh, or how much they should weigh. Let us concentrate instead on where we house ourselves – our houses, our apartments, our condo’s, our yurts or our tents. Many of us have a bed or a place to sleep, at least one chair to sit on or perhaps a floor pillow, a table of sorts to put things onto and a few other basic essentials.
What then, is essential? Not much, to be realistic. Our forefathers lived in caves and temporary shelters or even subsisted on sleeping in trees. I hear that the Huns slept on horseback. To realize that not too many centuries ago, the well-to-do used their hands to eat much of their food (the fork was invented somewhere in medieval England), makes me wonder just what we really need for our physical welfare.
It is true that an ordinary supermarket today contains much more than anything the Roman emperors or kings of ancient lands ever saw or ate, is a sobering thought. Our sewer systems, running water, hot and cold baths – things we take for granted, were quite novel to the rich back then and today many, if not most people in the world, still do not have such luxuries.
But this essay is about weight. When you come home from the store, do you consider the weight of what you carry into your nest? In the case of groceries, that weight, say seven pounds, will go into your system and either add, maintain, or take away from your personal weight. But what about the other stores – the furniture, the accessories, the clothing stores? Have you ever looked at a beautiful display of sofa, loveseat, coffee table and side table combination in an ad and drooled over it? I have. Yet, who would worry about the weight of all this stuff? The delivery men – sometimes four highly muscled men - are needed to drag off of these pieces up the elevator and into your pad.
When you sit in your living room, do you wonder why you sometimes feel cramped in and not all that comfortable? Is it because you are still paying for the living room, bedroom or dining room set and your bank account is getting heavy hits every month?
Or is it perhaps that your cubic feet of breathing space are now taken up by many cubic feet of leather, vinyl, stuffing, wood and metal, all covered with attractive colors that match? Could it be that having a thousand pounds of that added to your living room might cause some spiritual concern and claustrophobia?
Of late, I have been concerned with the weight of things I bring into my place. Living in a small studio, perhaps 700 square feet or so, and not a very high ceiling, I realize that there are just so many cubic feet that make up my present abode. Do I want to trip over several chairs, tables, rugs, side tables, floor lamps and stand up pots full of long, decorative reeds?
No, definitely not. So today I assess the rough weight of what I bring in, for I definitely am a shopper, and then try to put a similar amount of things into the donation box or bag, to be taken to a thrift shop or the church for their bazaar or homeless program. Of late, I get a thrill out of ‘moving out old energy’ as they say in an Asian philosophic system. I like that expression, since everything that I do move out was useful at some time and as we ecologically minded folks know, recycling is very ‘in’ these days.
One reason I am very aware of the weight (and also volume) of objects today, is because I was a pack rat for many, many years and it was nothing to haul a large chest of drawers that somebody had placed on the curb into my apartment. At the time I was young, foolish and strong. I did not even consider that termites may have been living in these discards, nor that I already had two or three old chests of drawers full of things I would never wear or use.
But with age comes wisdom of sorts. Not only is it hard for me to carry loads of things home – even a gallon of milk is a bit of a challenge, but it’s really nice to be able to look at an expanse of floor, wall space that is not full of pictures and hangings, and even the window now has a full view of the outdoors. No curtains, no drapes, and no frills, laces, bows or pom-poms hanging down.
Being a dyed in the wool thrifter from way back, I now pat myself on the back for entering a thrift shop and ending up with a book, a vest or a little metal rack for files. I look with pity at those who are buying huge bags of stuff and secretly snicker at the price tags and totals they pay. That was me some years back and I consider it a minor miracle that I can say ‘no’ to so may tempting objects – a bulky chair that looks like Louis XIV might have sat in it, or a floor lamp whose base is a metal statue of a Greek goddess.
Oh, how things change in life as the years roll on. Who would have thought I would even think about the weight of anything back then? Of course, my own weight is also something that adds to the cubic feet of my space, so today I eat a little bit less, walk a little bit more, and carefully lift any object I consider buying. If I can’t lift it, I don’t need it. Is that some kind of rule to go by? For today, that guideline serves me well.