First I have to apologize for my sporadic posting this week … I traveled home to the east coast to see family, and have been trying to enjoy time with them this week – so I haven’t given much thought to my blog. (Anyway, this goes well with my last post in the series, which focused on building interpersonal relationships and stepping away from the ‘hyper-connected’ world we live in for a bit). So far, my trip has been great! I wish we lived closer to family so that get-togethers like this one are more frequent and don’t require a flight …
Over the past few days, I’ve been reading a lot of posts from Zen Habits and mnmlist - both blogs written by author Leo Babauta. He is an incredibly insightful writer who often blogs about simplicity and minimalism – two concepts that have been almost entirely foreign to me until about six months ago. I have been brought up to work hard, save up, spend on things I like, and go shopping for fun:
While frivolous and extravagant spending have never been part of my lifestyle, I always aspired to reach the day when I would be able to afford anything I could possibly want. I spent a lot of time agonizing over how I will be able to achieve my dream, even though – surprisingly – I hadn’t carefully thought about what I would want to buy if I were to achieve my dream and make a lot of money one day.
A big house? Lots of clothes? The latest technologies? Vacations to exotic places? Sure … these all sounded pretty nice to me, but then I thought about all the work and saving up I had to do to enjoy this lifestyle full-time. It seemed so daunting and overwhelming. And in the end, after acquiring all these possessions, would my life get easier or harder? Well, considering that I have some of these assets already and they already take a lot of maintenance (minus the big house and vacations), I would say that my life would get considerably harder.
“How so?” – you may be thinking.
Well, currently, I already spend significant amount of time and cash maintaining the stuff I currently own. Take clothes – having more means I need more accessories to match (more money), more time to do a bigger batch of laundry (uses natural resources), more space to store all the clothes (bigger house = more money), more time putting it away when it gets messy, and a bigger hassle to pack it away and move it when travelling or relocating. And that’s just clothes. We don’t think of it quite that way, now do we?! That’s because the media make sure that we are deluded into thinking we need more and more stuff as much as possible:
Adding more things to the mix will only increase the time that I need to take care of these things. Since I only have the same number of hours in the day, this automatically means that I’ll be spending less time on things that matter most to me – spending time with people I care about, feeling closer to God, learning something new, creating something, enjoying nature, taking care of my health, helping others, etc. Something’s gotta give … either I cut down on stuff or I cut down on these enjoyable activities. So, which will it be?
I recently (as of a couple of days ago) decided that I’d like to be a minimalist – but not because it’s a fad, an ascetic goal, or a way to be more careful with money. I’m really starting to see that owning less stuff is automatically almost liberating, because our lives are no longer focused on our existence as consumers, but on our capabilities as artists and creators, lovers and friends.
Before you begin to judge my words and compare to my quasi-maximalist lifestyle, I want to say that I am only beginning to realize the merits of shedding unnecessary things. This doesn’t mean I have made the leap and sold or given away 80% of my stuff. Far from it. I struggle to let go of stuff, out of fear that I might regret it or find out that my life is so much … emptier? But deep down inside, my soul longs for something more meaningful than working day and night to earn a buck that I will end up spending on a useless item that will simply collect dust on the shelf. I long to live. … to dream and to play and to love. There is nothing wrong with shopping for things that are necessary and enjoyable, but something definitely feels wrong about designing our entire lives around the concept of consumerism:
I am planning to make the transition to minimalism over the course of … well, life. I’ll save the practical tips for the next post in the series, ’cause I need to go to sleep now. But just in case you’re curious, a lot of the tips have to do with getting back to nature.
Man, when have I become so … obsessed with all things bucolic? :-p
Have a great night everyone!