I admit that I did have my tongue in my cheek for some of yesterday’s post, making it sound as if we only have a choice between ‘necessities’ and ‘luxuries’.

One person’s luxury is another’s necessity … what criteria would we all agree on, to decide which is which?

When we went to Romania we had to give away or sell almost everything, as we had no storage, apart from a small spare bedroom kindly offered to us by a friend. So serious choices had to be made. In fact, we’ve moved over 30 times in our 40 years of marriage, so have never had the chance to hoard much, and constant moves force you to decide what you ‘need’ and ‘don’t need’.

But it’s not that simple, is it? If we look at basic needs just to keep someone alive, then we’re looking at food, shelter and clothing. Many people in the world don’t even have these.

I try and act on my principle of ‘living simply, that others may simply live’; but there are things which I own but don’t need, strictly speaking. We like to have them though, because they enhance the quality of life. For example, Hub’s parents’ piano: not a necessity, but the source of much pleasure and relaxation. (No, it wouldn’t go into the friend’s spare bedroom – we lent it to a friend for the duration!)


We did manage 5 years without it, however. And I wonder whether that’s a criterion for deciding what we really ‘need’, and what we ‘don’t need’. Can we do without it? What happens if it’s taken away from us? How much are our lives impoverished … how much does it matter … and how do we decide?



  1. When I was a child the water was heated by the coal fire.We were more independent then from the Utility companies.Both my sister and I now have a lot of clothes trying to compensate for poverty but it doen’t work!But the point you make about choice is excellent.xx


  2. I found this is a very interesting post. I have lived most of my life, in the lap of luxury, and because of my view of life, have chosen to live in a (relatively) modest way. But even so… because I was born and raised in another time, I became quite attached to my tools and possessions. In recent years, I have found myself in a new age. For the sake of simplicity, I mark the start of this new age from the emergence of the digital tools and appliances. Slowly, I became aware that it is a disadvantage to become emotionally attached to tools or objects. I had the same radio for forty years. When it broke, and I looked for someone to repair it, I was told that one could buy a new one for less than it would take to repair the old one. And this is an example of how people relate to almost all appliances these days. This has been a difficult change for me.

    But long before that, I became aware of the fact that possessions could weigh a person down. That it was far better to live lightly. And so I’ve avoided the collection of possessions. Even so, I have more than I need.


    1. It seems as if we are being forced into a version of materialism by the spirit of the age – the ‘latest’ is the best and anything old has been made deliberately obsolescent. It annoys me but there’s nothing I can do about it except to insist on continuing to make modest choices for myself.


  3. I was always upset when my parents moved and the piano had to be sold/left behind as it wouldn’t fit – did live alone for a year in my mid forties without a TV and never missed it – caught up with reading all the books I hadn’t time for before


    1. It’s interesting, isn’t it – I wouldn’t want to be without my laptop now, but after all I have not had one for most of my life! I do know that it’s not necessary, and I never take it on holiday with me – it’s good for me to use my leisure time in other ways – and to remind myself that I can!


  4. Are ‘necessities’ the antithesis of ‘luxuries’…..:roll: Luxuries may well be anathema to ‘necessities’ for life..;)
    You clearly raise fundamental issues here…:yes: xx


  5. Like you I have moved around a lot, and technically speaking have been homeless twice, which really woke me up to what my needs are, as opposed to my wants.

    Along with food, shelter, clothes, oh and of course art supplies, running water is key, and I also love my bed:)


    1. Yes, we’ve been technically homeless too … but as you say, you discover what your needs are!

      I think water is a necessity of life. I’ve lived in places where I haven’t had it, and it’s been very difficult to get, and I never want to go back to that. It was awful.


  6. I am surprised you have moved 30 times in 40 years of marriage wow that takes some doing Im pleased the piano is still with you it can give endless pleasure 😉


    1. It’s been a bit much, Lilian … but yes, there are some things, like the piano, that are more like old friends, and can make you feel at home wherever you are!


  7. You decided way back when that one object was not a necessity for constant use and to be within your sight. It was however, important enough to you to arrange surrogate care for it. Your sentiments are a necessity it seems, the representation of some of them is your piano. Who would begrudge you that.

    In the most severe of conditions, in relative terms, we would all have to adapt in some way, as people are having to now. In survival situations, you do what you have to do. and try to create the bare requirements to survive.


    1. I’ve heard poverty described as ‘not having choice’ and I know when I’ve been in situations where it has taken all my time and energy simply to keep the necessities of life together for my family, it has been very dispiriting. The millions of women all over the world for whom that constitutes their whole lives have my undying respect.


      1. There is a choice in poverty, it is stark, to live or die. When practical and dynamic hope runs out, the choice, if that is the term to use, is likely to be to give up.


    1. I know the feeling! I’ve slept on numerous different beds and now I’m getting older, and also have a certain amount of insomnia, I find that a good bed is a necessity!


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