Less is More

Less is More


“Too Many Pockets”


When we moved to Africa in 2013, the first thing I bought was a safari jacket/vest. This is an olive sleeveless vest loaded with multiple pockets.

My safari jacket had sixteen pockets with both zippered and flap types. Most of the pockets were on the outside of the jacket, while others lined the inside. I was so proud of this purchase as it would allow me to carry all of my essentials: keys, cell phone, journals, maps, pens, pencils, and highlighters.

I assigned each object to a specific pocket and had a plan to locate each item quickly as needed.

As I headed out into the bush visiting refugee camps and tribal groups, I was a prepared and happy man.

Except I quickly discovered that I had a problem: I had too many pockets.  In spite of my good intentions to have “a place for everything and everything in its place”, I would search six pockets before I found my ringing cell phone.

This wasn’t the fault of the safari jacket. It was my inability to keep everything in its place, and then remember what pocket which item belonged. No matter how I tried to organize, I just had too many pockets.

Over time, I used my safari jacket less and less. Instead of being a help, my vest became a burden and a source of frustration.  I finally gave it away to an African friend. I hope he had better luck with it than I did.

My problem was simply this: I had too many pockets to keep up with. I found I could do just as well with the four pockets of my jeans and a backpack as the multiple pockets of my safari vest.

My years in Africa taught me this lesson: Less is more. In our Western Civilization, we attempt to hoard and gather more. Our lives feature too many things to keep and too many pockets to put them in.

I’m amazed at how we Americans clutter our homes with material things and still need storage units to store the excess we have. I compare this to the simple homes that my African friends had. In spite of their meager material possessions, I’m not sure that they didn’t have more contentment in their homes.

Less is truly more.

Let me confess, I still miss my safari jacket. I’ve even thought of getting another one, but I’ll resist the temptation because it wouldn’t work any better on this Continent than it did in Africa.

Here are a few thoughts I’m working on to de-clutter my pockets:

  1. When I’m handling paper or mail, what do I really need to keep? So often, I’ve had stacks of needless paperwork piled up on my desk. I’m trying to follow the rule of handling it once.
  2. What do I have in material possessions that I’ll never use again? This can be anything from clothing to small appliances. Be brave and have a garage sale. You’ll feel better about life and yourself as you simplify. If you can’t bring yourself to a sale, bag it up and take it to Goodwill. You won’t miss it.
  3. Don’t let the clutter of things keep you from the most important relationships in life. I’ve known friends whose houses were so hoarded that they couldn’t entertain friends or family. Less is always more. Take a room at a time and begin the freeing work of de-cluttering and de-hoarding.


I’m always wanting to learn. I’d love to hear your ideas on the “less is more” way of living.




Curt Iles

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