Ok, if we have been honest, we realize that we might be driven to accumulate things, and that our closets and desks and lives seem cluttered as a result. Or maybe not. Maybe it is just me and your neighbor. So what do we do?

I know that I often wish I could start over. I remember as a kid getting frustrated with how my video game was going and jamming the restart button. I loved save points. Any time I messed up I could start the game over from that advantageous point. More than once I have wished I was in Bill Murray’s position in the movie Ground Hog’s Day, repeating the same day until I got it perfect.

But life isn’t like video games or the movies no matter how much we wish.

Yet, we do have general control of the direction and the quality of life.

Have you ever slept in on a Saturday, long past your normal waking hour, and the only reason you got up was because you really had to use the bathroom? I’ve had a Saturday or two like that and it always seemed like I had no energy the rest of the day. It was all I could do to keep from tumbling back into bed.

I also have had times when my eyes and taste buds were much too greedy and I ate enough food for ten people. Afterward I could barely sit comfortably, let alone pursue my normal activities.

When it comes to candy, I don’t know when to say no. I eat until the bag is empty, and then an hour later my tongue is swollen to balloon sized proportions and my taste buds throb.

When I travel, I have a tendency to want to get there as quickly as possible. If my destination is twelve hours away, I’ll drive twelve hours instead of breaking it up into two six hour driving days. The only problem is that when I drive that long in the summer, my car will heat up to the point that I must pull over and let it cool down to normal before I can continue.

My computer is a very versatile machine. It seems I can do everything with it, and I often try to. I load up a movie editing program, and the best virus program, and the cool flash plugin that makes all the webpages pop and fizzle, and that instant messenger so I can chat with my buddy all while I have iTunes up and running in the background. About this time my computer will slow down to the speed of molasses dripping in winter.

Speaking of winter, and all that cold, white snow that has been laying around for the past four months, reminds me of vacations. I am a big vacationer. If I could, I would go on one trip after another. But no one does that. One vacation after another would spoil the uniqueness and ‘getaway’ feel a single well-earned vacation in the middle of months of work.

In all of these, excessive quantities of a thing, often a good thing, took its toll and reduced the effectiveness and pleasure. Too much sleep left me tired. Too much food slowed me down. Too much candy ruined my taste buds for days. Too much travel made my car overheat. Too many vacations piled on top of each other lessen the impact of one great one.

Yet, we humans think and act as though more, more, more will satisfy us.

It is a prevailing mind set here in America. Look at the subtle encouragement of advertisers. On TV they saturate us with images and offers of restoration for our tired selves. Drink Sprite and feel refreshed. A sparkling bubble bath and lemon freshness all in one. Gatorade, the only drink that restores and replenishes all that lost energy and those minerals that your body needs to jump back into the game. Hurting? Sore? Headache. Take Tylenol and in a few hours you will feel as good as new. Lunesta. A few pills and you will sleep on a cloud with a smile on your face and wake feeling rested and refreshed. Ready to do it all again.

We are tired and stressed and we don’t even realize it because we are so focused on productivity and acquisitions, as though acquiring more means being more.

But if our bodies, if our cars, if our minds function better for less, perhaps cutting away the excess is the key. Henry David Thoreau agreed, “our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.”

If we become so focused on the details, we lose sight of the larger picture. We all want rich lives, but rich lives don’t necessarily mean the number of things we have, but what we can live without. Thoreau said “a man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.”

Rich. I want to be rich. And how do I get there? It’s in part IV.

© Seth Crossman