Around 10 years ago, I bought a book titled Material World: A Global Family Portrait.
I’m tired right now, so I’ll let someone else on Amazon tell you all about it:
In honor of the United Nations-sponsored International Year of the Family in 1994, award-winning photojournalist Peter Menzel brought together 16 of the world’s leading photographers to create a visual portrait of life in 30 nations. Material World tackles its wide subject by zooming in, allowing one household to represent an entire nation. Photographers spent one week living with a “statistically average” family in each country, learning about their work, their attitudes toward their possessions, and their hopes for the future. Then a “big picture” shot of the family was taken outside the dwelling, surrounded by all their (many or few) material goods.
The book provides sidebars offering statistics and a brief history for each country, as well as personal notes from the photographers about their experiences. But it is the “big pictures” that tell most of the story. In one, a British family pauses before a meal of tea and crumpets under a cloudy sky. In another, wary Bosnians sit beside mattresses used as sniper barricades. A Malian family composed of a husband, his two wives, and their children rests before a few cooking and washing implements in golden afternoon light. Material World is a lesson in economics and geography, reminding us of the world’s inequities, but also of humanity’s common threads. An engrossing, enlightening book. –Maria Dolan
It is an AMAZING read, and it really puts a whole lot of things in perspective. Hubby brought it out before he left, and we looked through it as a family. I think it gave the kids an awareness of just how much we have around us that are ‘wants’ and not really ‘needs’. Of course, they’re not the ones who need the lesson, obviously. Golfer packed up a couple basketballs and sweat pants and was good to go. Naturalist got all her art supplies together and was good to go. I’m the one hoarding everything like I’d die without it.
I think the initial week of letting things go was a really difficult one for me–lots of tears and lots of angst. I’m finding that unattaching to things gets better with practice, and the more I give away (or, sell!) the easier it is to give away (or sell!). There have been less tears and less angst in the last 2 days…now I’ve just got this steely determination to see this through.
I remembered my grandmother last night, on my Dad’s side. She was quite a little firecracker for her time…hiking around mountains, getting a college degree, frolicking on the Southern California beaches and lakes…quite a fascinating woman. Here she is hiking Mt. Timpanogos in Utah with a dude that did not turn out to be my grandpa, but who is still pretty cute:
Her family packed up only their most precious possessions in Scotland and sailed across the ocean to get to America. Once in America, they chose to whittle their precious possessions down to practically nothing in order to travel by foot across the country in a wagon train. In comparison, my task of condensing our things down so we can travel around and stay on beaches in So. Cal in an RV is not so tough. She was a loving and caring grandma, but in that moment I pictured her laughing at me and calling me a wimp.
So, here’s to you, Grandma!
I also decided on a brilliant (if I do say so myself) plan of action to get other people to clean out my basement for me. I’m so sure this plan will work, I’m taking a day off tomorrow so we can go to the Zoo. It’s supposed to be in the 50’s (a heat wave compared to the December we just survived) and Sassy wants to go see the animals one last time.
Thanks again for the comments and suggestions, it takes a village to move a family, and you are that village for me!
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