time to explain the title of this section.

last winter, i checked living the simple life, another of elaine st. james’s books, out of the library. it had a bibliography in the back which i photocopied before i returned the book, and i’ve read a couple of the recommended books. one of them was clutter control by jeff campbell. i followed his excellent advice, and have moved my house to a more livable state (though i still have more i want to do).

one phrase which i believe i picked up from living the simple life is “one plate, one fork, one spoon”, meaning simply that you don’t need more than one of each. the dining room was a real disaster before i started; dan had collected coffee mugs, and they were all over. the only one that meant anything to me was the one which he gave me on valentine’s day, so it was kept out while the others went into boxes and into the spare bedroom. [1] there were many glasses of all sizes sitting on the shelf gathering dust, even though i only used a couple of them. in the drawers of the cabinets, there were huge stacks of plates, dozens of knives and forks, and more mugs and glasses. there were things i never used, like glass butter holders and egg toppers. the drawers were so heavy that i only opened them reluctantly.

into boxes it all went, and up to the storage room. now i just keep three (in case of guests) of each frequently-used item in the drawers. if i decide to throw a banquet (highly unlikely), i can just get what i need out of the boxes. in the meantime, it’s not in my way. the drawers open and shut easily, but i usually don’t even need to open them; i use my one plate, my one fork, and my one spoon, then wash them and put them back in the dish drainer. the next time i need them, they’re right there in the open. the sink is empty; it used to be filled with dishes when i had the option of grabbing another plate from the drawer instead of washing the one.

in the dhammapada, the first words of shakyamuni buddha are:

we are what we think.
all that we are arises with our thoughts.
with our thoughts we make the world.

if you’re susceptible to influence as i am, what you think is in part a result of what you see. if you see disorder and confusion, garbage and waste, these things become a part of your thinking and a part of you. a clean and orderly and simple home is an important aid to a happier life.


1. i would love to simply get rid of a lot of the things around here (like two of the three woks), but unfortunately, they don’t belong to me, so they’ll have to sit in (well-labeled) boxes until dan’s sister decides what she wants to do with them.

giving away/selling the stuff you don’t use is the best thing to do with it; it doesn’t do anyone any good in storage, and someone could be using it. i realized this about my collection of books which were sitting on the shelf un-reread, so i packed them up and donated them to the library down the street. if i need one of them again, i can go check it out. in the meantime, it’s available to anyone who wants it.

One thought on “one plate, one fork, one spoon

  1. “if you see disorder and confusion, garbage and waste, these things become a part of your thinking and a part of you. a clean and orderly and simple home is an important aid to a buddhist practice and a happier life.”

    I’ve been trying to explain this to my housemate for two and a half years. Some people like her like to hoard things, but I’ve never understood the point in not using things you could quite easily give to someone else who would make good use of them.


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