I’m visiting some friends today, who happen to live in a three-story house on seven acres of land in the mountains east of Bakersfield. I visit here several times a year, and every time I do they put me to work. Today I pulled weeds and stacked three cords of firewood. On the inside, I scrubbed the kitchen down--sinks, walls, counters, and appliances.
Why all the work? As I said, these guys live in a gigantic house on seven acres. Pile on top of that the fact that they both work fulltime jobs, and you begin to understand that they never have enough time to keep their place up. There is always a ton of things that needs doing. Normally, they need to hire help to get things done, which is not cheap.
So whenever I’m here I try to help out. I don’t mind. I like to help in any way I can. I feel sorry when I see their garden go to pot, or their house fill with dog hair.
But each time I come down to work, I can’t help thinking that these guys have bitten off more than they can chew. The result seems to be that they are constantly working their weekends away to stay abreast of the upkeep, and there is a constant flow of their money into hired help when they fall short. At times it seems to me that this place is a prison for them, keeping them pinned here doing hard labor and keeping them behind the eight-ball financially.
Before they moved here, they rented a two-bedroom condo in town with a yard just big enough for one dog. Honestly, I think they were much happier then. They had lots of free time and plenty of cash for those weekend getaways.
To me this is a lesson in not taking too much. The more you have, the more time, money and energy it takes to care for it. This week I will be house hunting for a home for my husband and I, a place we hope to grow old in, perhaps the last place we’ll ever live. And our guiding principle will be "do not go after more house than we need." We want quality, but we also want to downsize. We’re looking for something easy to maintain as we age, only large enough to be comfortable.
The older I get, the more I realize the old adage 'less is more' can be very true.