In the early days of our time in Japan, my CH joined a local health club so he could swim. It wasn't terribly expensive, but it was an inconvenient membership. He had to get up early and finish by noon at the latest. In fact, he often got up to swim while I was asleep and I was still asleep when he returned. After a few years of this, he started losing the drive to get up in the wee hours and rush out for a swim, particularly in the winter, and we bought a treadmill and he walked on it at home.
Fast forward until about 3 years ago and my CH started to have problems with his foot which kept him from walking on our completely manual treadmill. Since it has no machine driving the belt, you have to pull extra hard with your feet to move it so having a lame foot makes using it impossible without significant discomfort.
When a flyer magically appeared in our mailbox offering a reasonable deal on a day-time membership (9:00-5:00) at my CH's former health club for only about $80 a month, I strongly urged him to return to swimming. Though he wanted to swim again, he was somewhat hesitant to pay the monthly fees because I'd just quit my job and our income had dropped by about half. I assured him that his health was a high enough priority for us to make cut-backs elsewhere to accomodate his health club membership.
Since he started back up again, he's been using the same swimming trunks he's had all these years. He's had two pair for almost a decade and a half and one of them gave up the ghost yesterday. As I was fishing out the remaining pair, I got to pondering about how much is "enough". Does he really need two pair of swimming trunks or should one be enough? I concluded that he needed two so they could be swapped out and washed without interfering with his exercising, and so he has a back-up pair if one is damaged or lost.
From a rational viewpoint, "enough" should be something which is objective. Each person should be able to assess her need and figure out what is "enough". In reality, it's highly subjective. One person's "enough" is another's "highly insufficient" or "too much." This is something which is frequently brought home to me when I read the Apartment Therapy web site and people talk about the size of their "tiny" or "small" apartments which are always at least 1/4 bigger than mine (and often twice or three times as big). When someone asked if a couple could live in a 400 sq. feet place, one person said that you could only manage it if you spent as little time as possible in the apartment and spent as much time as possible outside in cafés, restaurants or other public spaces. My CH and I live in a place which is about 365 sq. feet (so I've been told) and manage to feel comfortable in it. We feel no compulsion to get out as often as possible. I daresay we could probably actually manage an even smaller space with one less room though it'd be very difficult to teach private lessons with one less room than we have now and it would require losing a few computers and getting a smaller television.
I think most people could get by with less than they have and a vast deal less than they believe is the least they can deal with. One of the things that living in Japan has made me grateful for is that the situation has really fully prepared me for the idea of scaling down my lifestyle and being satisfied with what I have. I used to want a bigger place with separate rooms for various functions (an exercise room, an entertainment room, etc.). Now, all I can think about is that it'd just be more expensive to heat in the winter and cool in the summer as well as just encourage me to save more junk. I've also grown accustomed to not using a clothes dryer or dishwasher. All those eco-friendly lifestyle changes people are forcing themselves into back home are "am there, doing that" for me.
Sometimes I wonder if there is appreciably more I could give up if circumstances compelled me to do so. I'm sure that people who devote their lives to helping in areas without technology would think that I have "too much" even at the level I'm at now. I'm not quite prepared to give up my computer or Internet connectivity, though I sometimes think it might be a good idea to try...at least for a little while.