07 June 2009

how little we need

Last night, we had nine people sleeping in our tiny one-bedroom: my partner and me in our bedroom; two couples and a baby in our living room; and another couple on our kitchen floor.

My partner and I were a little worried at first, but it all turned out just fine. And I remembered that in many places in the world, not only would this be totally normal, it would even be luxurious. We had everything we needed to live (food, water, shelter, clothing) but also the bonus of loved ones/good company.

With little babies running around, it also reminded me that clutter and little doodads are evil. So, our future home will be simple and open-- and able to accommodate as many visitors as necessary.

It also reminds me of this Atlantic article, What Makes Us Happy?, which asks:
Is there a formula—some mix of love, work, and psychological adaptation—for a good life? For 72 years, researchers at Harvard have been examining this question, following 268 men who entered college in the late 1930s through war, career, marriage and divorce, parenthood and grandparenthood, and old age. Here, for the first time, a journalist gains access to the archive of one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history. Its contents, as much literature as science, offer profound insight into the human condition—and into the brilliant, complex mind of the study’s longtime director, George Vaillant.
And here we are halfway through 2009, a good time to take stock of where we are in relation to our goals for the year. So, here's an article on measuring personal change. It is the antidote to most people thinking they are both better looking and better drivers than most other people.

But the best version of looking at a life that I've seen so far is the Up series, starting with fourteen children at age seven, based on the Jesuit maxim "Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man." The director, Michael Apted, then returns to these children every seven years to see where their lives have taken them. They're up to 49 Up now, and Hackwriters even praises Ebert for getting it right when he says the series is "an inspired, almost noble use of the film medium... Apted penetrates the central mystery of life."