It would be fair to say that 'excess' - going over what is desirable, having a lack of moderation or being over-sufficient or un-needed... is something that is present in many areas of my life. I thought about this as I lay in bed this morning; about how there's always a 'sweet spot' for everything, a point where you something is 'enough' and to have more would tip into excess. I know that I can never just have a handful of crisps, one or two pairs of shoes, one glass of wine at the pub or one slice of pizza. I eat chocolate until I feel sick, fill up my weeks and weekends with evening plans until I'm exhausted and stressed, say yes to so many blogging projects that I end up having to set early alarms to blog before work, and can't seem to take up a new hobby without buying every book that's ever been written on it.
It's fair to say that I might just have an inclination towards excess. It's why my house is bursting at the seams. Take books for example. I sorted out my books the other day and gave two huge sacks of them to the charity shop. But I still have an entire bookshelf with books I haven't read yet. Books I've seen mentioned on Twitter and had to immediately buy. Books with pretty covers I was tempted by in the bookshop. Books by authors I heard on a podcast once. Books I picked up in charity shops, books I bought with Christmas money or books I've borrowed from friends (sorry, friends). I probably have at least 50 books on that bookshelf. But most nights I climb into bed, check Twitter for ten minutes and then turn off the light. I'm definitely not reading enough to justify a 50 book 'to-read pile'.
Perhaps the problem is that I am greedy. Another crisp, another dress, another book - all in the pursuit of that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you're surrounded by things that you love. But there is a tipping point. I think that there is a point when the pleasure you get from those things that you love are devalued by over-production, over-indulgence. There was a quote in the paper from Tom Hanks today - "Eating everything you want is not that much fun. When you live a life with no boundaries, there's less joy." I think that's true with everything. Having, and doing everything you want, unbridled, with no off button, no point at which you say no - is not a good way to live (for me at least).
Whilst wandering around Monmouth today we went into a little bookshop and I saw a book called L'art de Simplicite by Dominique Loreau. When I opened it up, the first chapter was called 'Material Excess'. Don't you just love it when you get a little message from the universe like that? (Okay, it's another book to go on the shelf, but still). I've already done a lot of Marie Kondo-ing at home but I have a feeling that tackling this is going to need more than just a clothes and books clearout, and hopefully this book will have some answers.
I'm going to make a concerted effort from now on to find that sweet spot, to not go beyond that tipping point into excess. I need to remind myself that I don't have to buy another dress or another pair of shoes to feel satisfied. I need to stop myself from spending £20 on sweets, chocolate and popcorn when I nip into the shop to get a treat to watch a film with - or from ordering three courses and extra dough balls when I go to Pizza Express. I need to manage my diary better and remind myself that I really don't need to arrange to do things every night for a month to feel like I'm making the most of my time. But probably most of all, I need to remember that happiness comes from more than just things - and hopefully that finding that balance and simplicity will be just as fulfilling as adding another pair of shoes to my collection...