The last few weeks have brought a revelation to our family. And this revelation will not come as a surprise to any of you. It didn’t even really come as a surprise to me, because the crux of it is what I have been striving towards since embarking on this journey.
People are more important than Things.
I know. Shocking, right? 🙂 As this is a very basic philosophy to the minimalistic lifestyle. So, why did we come to this revelation this week?
The first situation was a minor one (in compared to the second). My parents came at the last minute and stayed overnight with us. I had not been planning for them and even though I have been slowly reducing our possessions (or crap, if the truth must be known), there are still quite a few areas that need improvement. And as any parent of 2 small children knows, those areas that may actually be clean, do not remain so for long.
But in response to my mother’s unexpected call, I took the time I had to change the sheets on the bed and tidy up the bedroom to make it presentable. Why? you ask. Well, this particular room has become the “sorting” room. As I go through things, if there is a box that requires additional review, so to speak, it has been placed here to go until the next time I have 15-30 minutes. What did not get done, was the dishes in the sink, or a quick pick-up of our main living area.
Now, why did this situation resonate with me? It was the response my mother had. When they arrived, I apologized for the state of the house. And my mother said, “Don’t worry about it. It shows me that you spend more time with your husband and children, than cleaning your house. And that’s how it should be.” I had never looked at it that way before, but she is right. My children will only be this small for a short time.
Now, the second situation was a bit more serious. We have a dear friend who has been battling a rare strain of the cancer multiple myeloma for the last two years. He is in his late 30s, married, and has 2 school aged children. In the course of his treatments, he has had multiple stem cell transplants, as well as the chemo, radiation and other cocktails to try and battle this disease. He is even a patient of one of the renowned doctors for this strain in the country. But this cancer will not stop; it keeps returning.
His faith and outlook very rarely has wavered and he has been inspiring to anyone who comes in contact with him. He has spent months and months away from his family at this treatment facility. Recently he was able to spend 5 weeks at home. But during that time, his blood counts never stabilized. He was weak, tired, and even had to be hospitalized once. But on the days that he was feeling better, they were able to get in family time – golf outings, trips to the movies, even just getting out and walking the dog as a family.
He just returned to the facility this week and starts a new clinical drug next week. The doctors are running out of treatment options. He is becoming forgetful – not remembering plans that he and his family have made or the fact that they have been cancelled. His wife and children are flying to see him this weekend, but she’s not sure he even remembers that. The children are scared to see him and think that every time they see their mother cry, that he has died. The oldest daughter made the comment that her friends just do not appreciate what they have, in regards to their parents.
So, it was this situation that brought me to the most important piece of that revelation – that people are more important than things. It doesn’t matter that you have dishes in the sink, or clothes to fold, or even work to do for your job. If my child asks me to read her a book, or to go outside and play, that is the most important thing. The time we spend with our families and those who are most dear to us is more precious and fleeting than any mundane task or everyday chore. Obviously, I’m not saying to never do those things. But it is the choices we make that shape the legacy we leave. And I would rather fold those clothes after the children are asleep, than to tell my 2-year that I do not have the time for her.
And that is the heart of the matter. So, just know that if you stop by my home, even though we are minimizing, you may find toys on the floor, crayon marks on the wall, dishes in the sink, a load of laundry beside the couch waiting to be folded and the grass may be an inch or two longer than it should be. But you will also find grinning faces, sweet blue eyes, and children who love to have books read to them and have tea parties.