“The things you own, end up owning you.” – Tyler Durdan
In order to keep my blogs at a readable length I have created a separate entity for my talk on Minimalism.
Most of you probably think I mean to talk about the bread of running shoes (If you ever watch someone ask for a pair of “those 5-finger shoes” they will always make the little horizontal spirit fingers motion – quite comical). No, I mean to discuss the art of trimming the fat from one’s material belongings.
My lifestyle, as of the last several years, has been geared towards the less is more idea. However, I tend to loose site of my priorities every once and a while and so it is good to do status check every now and again. As little as I would admit I have in my apartment, I still found myself having and indulging in frivolous things. For example, when I first moved in I did not buy a TV or install internet. For a while I would just sit and listen to music while eating. But in the last few months I found myself watching the same DVDs over and over again out of shear addiction. This wastes a surprising amount of time. If I were to eat with music I would simply be done when I had finished all of my food. When watching a movie or show, however, I find myself either finishing the episode (and perhaps starting another) or watching about half the movie (and finishing the other half at the next meal). Also, my wardrobe I found to be excessive. Most of the clothes I wear now are Mizuno and a lot of the casual stuff I have I found I haven’t worn recently or at all since moving.
One of the things that sort of “dusssshed me in the balls” and raised my consciousness to my recent straying from a monkish existence was a website that my brother showed me while touring the Calgary Zoo. The two gentleman who run the site quit their 6-figure jobs to focus on a life of passion through minimalism. Now, like most things I find the idea of Minimalism a little too idealistic. That being said, I appreciate the foundation and can certainly see the practical applications in my own life.
So, I pulled the trigger that evening and cut, not quite to the bone, but certainly to a thin layer of epithelial cells. Here is a quick, general inventory of what I own.
Mizuno apparel, necessary dress clothes for work, enough casual wear to get through a week in different seasons.
1 folding table (for Mizuno events but which doubles as a table for meals)
1 fold up camping chair
1 fold up stool
1 lamp (found in trash)
2 plastic bins for clothing (1 for casual, 1 for running)
2 of each utensil
2 plates, 2 cups
A bowl set
Necessary prep tools such as can opener, measuring spoons, etc.
1 big pot
1 frying pan, 1 baking pan
1 small pot
Guitar, Keyboard and other musical equipment
Books (no more DVDs)
Camping and Adventure supplies
*Work stuff does not get cut. This would affect performance. I have a storage unit for samples, demos, signage and other promo gear. I have some stuff n my apartment so that i can grab it quickly on my way out for store visits (catologues, cards, etc).
The idea of all this (whatever you want to call it) is simply to detach from consumerism and instead focus more on what you are passionate about in life. For instance, I love to play music so I would not throw away my guitar. By getting rid of other distractions I free up more time for practice. Also, by breaking the shopping addiction you free up more time, period. Every dollar you spend is a dollar that you had to, or will have to spend time earning. A pair of Lulu Lemon pants may be nice but is it really worth the day you would have to work to make that kind of money? Wouldn’t you rather just wear something you already have and go hang out with friends? *I realize most people work regular hours anyway but the whole point is that there is a grand cumulative effect that happens over time. One with student debt, car payments, high rent and superfluous expenses would have to work much longer hours or at much higher paying (and usually less satisfying) jobs, for many extra years, than someone who does not have these things. The most simplest of examples arose for me at the start of the year. I realized that one room apartments were about $200-$300 more per month than bachelor style apartments. I decided almost instantly that having an extra wall was not 10% of my salary for the year. Instead I will be using that money to travel. I’m taking the train out West next month to walk the Bruce trail. And then on October, hopefully, I am going to fly out East to spend the weekend with my friends. That will still likely leave me with a bit left over which will either be saved or spent skiing or on some other fun outing.
There is also the necessity of maintenance for many material belongings. When Thoreau moved to Walden Pond he had not much more than a one room cabin to his name. A friend offered him some decorative statue for his table. When she told him that it only needed to be dusted once daily he was appalled and respectfully denied the gift. Now apply that anecdote to everything you own! And hey, what happens when it comes time to move? I don’t know anybody who has moved less than about 5 times. Pain in the ass if you asked me.
I hope that clarifies things. I imagine, like going Paleo, that this choice in lifestyle will create the usual banter. I don’t pick these things because they sound eccentric, I adopt them earnestly but not idealistically. I could change at any time.
Exercise 1 for my readers:
Take a few minutes and go through a few of your belongings. Ask yourself when the last time you used a particular thing, if someone else could perhaps get better use out of it (donate when possible, especially if it’s clothes), and if you could live without it. If the answer is yes to these than perhaps you could consider parting with it.
The next time you go to purchase something ask “Is this worth the time I will have to spend earning it?” If the answer is no than forget it and just move on. Likewise, even when you do purchase something, see if you can cope with settling for a value brand name rather than an over-priced designer brand; again asking the same question as before.