I began raising my family in the age of BIG. Everything was big. Our hair was big. Our cell phones were big. Tom Hanks was BIG. Our car was big. Our family was big. (Oh my gosh, look at this picture-I was big!) We read “The Magic of Thinking Big” and “Think and Grow Rich.” We quoted Goethe, “Dream no small dreams, for they have not power to move the hearts of man.” Now as my family is beginning to shrink it coincides with a world that is also downsizing. Less is more, simpler is greener and smaller is moraler—or so we are told.
On a recent segment on the Today Show, the realtor expert rolled her eyes at the thought of anyone wanting one of those monstrous four bedroom homes sitting empty in markets across this county. I could only imagine her reaction at being asked to list my house. When everyone comes home, with spouses, I have enough toilets for each person to have their own (toilets yes, toilet paper iffy). Could I live with one toilet-of course and I have. (In fact we do, no one uses the other eight.) In some circles, our porcelain thrones would be considered excessive—perhaps even immoral. Toilets, acres, cars, clothes, children… when is too much, too much or too many, too many or too big, too big? This is a question many others and I seem to be pondering a lot lately. A question with as many answers as there are people.
With each generation, the pendulum swings one-way and then the other. Booms are followed by busts, war by peace and those with all the answers are followed by those questioning everything. What worked for two Baby Boomers will most likely not be the solution for the next Millennial Generation. In this volley between generations and between ideologies, somehow this big blue ball has always remained in play and life has moved forward.
We all embrace the ideologies that work for us. From early in our married life even when we were poor starving students we tried to “live abundantly.” We lived the law of the fish and the loaves-there was “enough and to spare” even when that “to spare” was a cup of soup when a friend dropped in. Somehow the cupboards remained full, the babies kept coming and we always had enough. Simplifying is good. Scaling back is often necessary. And, there are some of our “big” decisions that I regret. (Egads, how many perm rods does it take to create that hair.) We have done without and at times totally screwed up, but then life comes back “pressed down and overflowing.” Abundance comes from the heart, scarcity from our place of fear.
Besides believing in abundance, I also am a closet claustrophobic. (Is that an oxymoron?) I think in their hearts all “westerners” are claustrophobic. We love breathing room; we love wide-open spaces. We love big skies, open plains and towering mountains. Why is it “moral” for horses to have lots of room, but “immoral” for people?
So Ms. East Coast Multiple Listing Service, I understand that you hate big houses, but I love my big house (most of the time). I love my big family (all of the time). I love having neighbors on a “wave as you pass” relationship. I love the fact that I have enough lawn chairs to host reunions, recitals and Trevor’s Open Mics. I love stemware, silverware and holiday plates—enough for everyone. I love having a guestroom or two—and I love being able to be a crashing pad for the “sick and afflicted” (occasionally). I like having two dishwashers and two washing machines—a necessity no, a convenience yes. I love having a place for all my books-I love books! I love flowers—who can ever have too many- and flower gardens. And I love trees—all kinds of trees; redwoods and maples, aspens and birches, Japanese maples and dwarf apples—I don’t think God rolls his eyes when out of a little acorn the might oak grows –in fact a God who created Mt. Everest and the Sahara Desert, ants and forget-me-nots— probably doesn’t even care about stature or size.