Since I was a child, I was taught to love and seek more of everything. Life was about having more, seeking more, wanting more. Anything, material or immaterial, was only the stepping stone to seeking something more. Everything becomes old and insufficient, faster and faster. And so, life is just a frantic race of accumulation and substitution. More of everything, all the time.
And suddenly, the pandemic arrives. That brutal handbrake we didn’t see coming. And the endless race to accumulate and replace came to an abrupt halt. From one day to the next, the space I inhabit, the number of people I interact with, and the amount of things I have to do in a day, were reduced.
At first, like many, I imagined it would be a simple temporary stop. A vacation at home. A 4-week sabbatical. Soon everything would be back to normal. The savings would be enough, the projects could wait, and the family would hold on.
But the 4 weeks became 6 months. The savings were not enough, the projects died and the family is already fed up for being locked up.
Without realizing it, I had to learn to live with less of everything. Less space to move around. Less commitments per day. Less income. Less expenses. Less fun and contact with different people. Less transfers and hurry. Less traffic and less pollution. Less privacy and less own spaces. Less distracting. Less alternatives. Less stuff. Less luxuries. Less formalities.
I suddenly stopped wearing shirts, jackets, ties and dress shoes. Three-quarters of my clothing closet was forgotten. Two or three pairs of pants, a pair of T-shirts and a pair of sneakers began to be enough to walk around the house, with the same people as always, to do the same thing every day.
The things accumulated over the years began to get in the way. The spaces in the house, which before were only places of passage, became living spaces. Places to be and spend many hours, and not just corners that adorn and embellish. Living began to be more important than accumulating. Living began to be more important than replacing and renewing. Existing and resisting became more important than showing off and teaching. Life became slower, more monotonous, more repetitive. Many people who seemed indispensable in my life simply ceased to exist. Dozens of things that seemed essential in the day were left in a drawer.
A laptop, a cell phone, a pen, a book, some pens and a blackboard became the things I really needed to exist and resist.
Living and resisting, the only thing that matters today. Everything else is in the way.
Suddenly, living with less generated the space I needed to live with more.
Living with fewer people allowed me to enjoy more those I do have. Living with less space forced me to look at myself and live with myself. Living with less generated space to create new and better things. Living with less money forced me to value more what comes in and make it last. Living with less haste generated more time to feel. Living with fewer distractions forced me to pay attention. Living with less formalities made me understand the priorities. Living with fewer obligations allowed me to feel the pleasure of serving again.
I am not ready to thank life for this moment, but I do want to remember it always, because 2020 has taught me that living with less allows me to live with more.