Muhlenberg College was a bunch of old stone buildings in the Lehigh Valley when I attended nearly 40 years ago. Save one. In the middle of the campus was the arts center, a modern building erected into a hill. It stood out like a sore thumb. It housed the art program, a theatre, gallery, etc. It was built seven years before my arrival on campus.
It was a beacon in the area as the glass roof illuminated from within was seen from all over the area.
During my schooling, the lightbulbs in the arts center roof began to burn out. Changing them was an ordeal. Philip Johnson, the architect, I suppose, was more interested in design than function for this project. Changing the lightbulbs took forever and a massive amount of equipment and inconvenience.
The roof comes to an edge, like a triangle. The building’s floor was sloped as it was on a hill. The ceiling is 60 feet high (my estimation). Scaffolding had to be erected, which displaced student traffic flow. It seems to me that the exterior doors even had to be finagled to get the equipment in to build the structure for workers to climb to replace the fluorescent bulbs. This was not a one-day project.
But lightbulbs need changing. Stuff needs to be maintained.
What little I own needs maintaining too. I feel I am in a very good place right now as I am close to bare minimum for my needs/wants. My current life is a countdown clock until my son is graduated. At that point, I will relocate. Everything I have is temporary.
It occurs to me, however, that when minimalists and others speak of this, we overlook the fact that the other parts of our lives need to be maintained as well.
Our health. Relationships. Peace.
For me, the reduction of things allows me to focus on those other areas. My health and peace are in great shape these days. I’ve always struggled with relationships; I suspect I always will. But with the deck cleared, as it were, I know that the relationships I do have are healthy and strong, if few.
I didn’t construct the beacon of beauty that was a struggle to maintain. Rather, I have a simple life, rich in health and peace.
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