Tony Leighton is a Canadian writer happily retired and attempting to help others feel the same.

Reverse-Downsizing: Trading One Kind of Spaciousness for Another

I’m about to conduct an interesting experiment with time and space.

In my retirement — which I’m lately describing to myself as “quasi-retirement” because work gigs have crept back in like charming stray dogs — I carved out time and space. 

I believe spaciousness is needed if one is to grow as a person. Growth doesn’t just happen. It requires cultivation. And that requires spaciousness of mind. Emotional spaciousness. Undistracted. Unencumbered. Uncrowded.

Here’s what it looks like:

A calendar with blissfully few entries.
Many days with nothing scheduled.
A short do-list.
Few social engagements in any given week.
Freedom, generally, from demands and obligations.
A pleasing simplicity of existence.

My experiment is to blow that up for a while. 

Why? Reverse-downsizing. Nine years ago, my wife and I prudently moved from a large house to a townhouse, a concise space well planned for two people that frees up time for growth. Physical spaciousness was exchanged for emotional spaciousness.

The hitch is our children are having children. There are now five grandchildren and by the time childbearing is over, there could well be 10. While it’s fantasy to imagine them in our home as much as we might like, a small home inhibits gatherings of almost any kind. A large home inspires them.

So we are reverse-downsizing. (Is this a minor trend?) We’ve bought a larger house. We are moving, probably in the dead of the Canadian winter. The whole operation could involve as much as six months of the turmoil a move can create. It will be the opposite of emotional spaciousness.

Then what? Can the contemplative life be restored? Are the demands imposed by property ownership contrary to yearnings for simplicity in the final third of life? Is the trade-off worth it?

All I know is that some experiments refuse to be ignored.

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