on linen sheets and having enough

Rough Linen sheet set

This fall, soon after my duvet-kicking post, my fairy godmother—meaning my sweet Texas cousin Corinne—gifted me with a set of linen sheets. Not just any sheets, these are the luxurious linen sheets from Rough Linen handmade in Marin, California, that I'd once blogged about wanting. The packaged arrived out of the blue on my doorstep in mid-November. The package was beautifully wrapped in tissue and brown ribbon, the sheets a crisp off-white. I'm pretty sure I squealed.

Tricia Rose or her shipping elves had tucked in a lavender bag and a sample of a special liquid wash (which I haven't yet tried). On the bed, the sheets are fabulously rumpled. The two flat sheets are over-sized with extra room for tucking compared to standard sheet sets. The linen somehow keeps me cool and warm at the same time. Over time, they should soften with wear and washing since, compared to densely woven cotton, the pillowslips are still a tad rough on the face. But I don't mind. This is the fabric of kings.

rumpled linen bedding

There are very few objects I want at this point in my life, aside from a (used) car and a (tiny) house, and virtually nothing I need. After cancer, having been touched by the inevitability of death and loss, to me intangibles like health and love and family and friendship and travel and peace become ever more important. Though I might not find linen sheet sets at the thrift store, I find other pretty secondhand things all the time, so after six years of regular thrifting, I have enough—enough baskets and vases and shoes and clothes and art. Enough is a good feeling.

It doesn't mean I never buy things. I brought home another small handmade thrifted vase and a few pieces of well made secondhand clothing just this week. I still have too much—which is why I should probably start a shop at some point to save from the trash the nicest things I find but don't have room in my own life for.

It actually hurts to walk into a big-box store and eye the rows and piles of shiny new junk I will later see at Goodwill. So much at the thrift store eventually ends up at the dump, anyway, because of the sheer volume of what Americans consume and discard. If more people knew this, would they consume less and more thoughtfully? How can a consumer-driven economy survive if not driven by, stoked by, advertising's all-pervasive messages of insecurity: not beautiful enough, not clean enough, not thin enough, not rich enough, not fast enough, not big enough, not cool enough.

I wish for the new year that more of us could find our own sense of enough. Enough means contentment with who we are, what we have, what we do—now. Enough means feeling gratitude for what we have rather than focusing mainly on what we lack that others have. Enough is the antidote for envy: I am enough, just as I am.

Anna cat in profile on bed

But if there is a gap in what is, a discontent, that feeling of lack, then right there is the point at which to turn and ask ourselves why. For example, do we want an upgraded phone because somebody else got a new iPad? Or do we want a Pendleton shirt when we really just want to go camping? And maybe then we work to fill the underlying gap, whatever it is: needing more adventure, more alone time, more learning, more fun with loved ones. Maybe we really do need a new phone because the old one has reached its limits of planned obsolescence. Maybe we really do need a car because spending four hours a day on public transport is ridiculous and unhealthy. Or maybe what we need instead is a different job.

I love my new linen sheets. Because of their quality, they will likely outlast me. I am humbled by the unexpected gift, its expense but more importantly its thoughtfulness. (Thank you so much, Corinne!) Each night I am linked, in a sense, to my cousin, to the web of family, to the fabric's growers and weavers and sewers, to the plant and the earth and sun, all for which I am grateful. But the cotton sheets I had—still have—were enough.

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