Something I read: Narrow down your sense of need


“If you can narrow down your sense of need, you can buy yourself an incredible amount of freedom.”

There was an article in the New York Times Magazine last week, “The School of Wants and Needs — and Wood-Fired Showers” about a private secondary school in central California where elemental needs like food, light, and heat are provided by student work as part of a curriculum put forth back in 1932 when the founder, the article notes, declared “that he wanted to create an institution free of the clutter that comes from affluence and the need to keep up with whatever everyone else has or does.”

But it’s that quote at the end of the article, about the reward of narrowing down one’s sense of need, taken from a teacher who spent a few years on a sailboat with his family that really stood out to me. Its reference is “stuff,” and the value of living with less of it. That’s how you sail the world.

But it occurs to me that narrowing down one’s sense of need for external validations and affirmations could be another way to think about how to access freedom. I have a feeling that’s how you sail through the world.

Of course, the key is thinking about to what you do and don’t want to be tied. As Janis Joplin sings in one of my favorite songs, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”

P.S. How to declutter. And more “Something I read” posts.

[Photo by Edina Szalai]

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