Let me go back.
I have too much stuff. Things. Material stuff. And I have a hell of a lot less than most people I know. I only have one junk drawer for example. Some people have junk houses. I like throwing stuff out. It frees me.
I am organised. I have uncluttered flat surfaces. I have rooms where nothing other than furniture lives on the floor…I would lock the door to these rooms to keep them that way if I thought I could get away with it.
I have a place for everything and everything has its place.
I sometimes get frustrated with those around me because they are messier than me. They think horizontal surfaces are to be populated with their stuff. I tried to enact my “nothing lives on the floor except furniture and yes my Fender amp is furniture” policy but no one listens.
It is unfortunate that there is a tidiness/untidiness stressor imbalance in the world (TUSI for short). What I mean is that untidiness stresses the tidy but I’m pretty sure tidiness does not stress the untidy.
So, I stumble across the website of two guys who call themselves The Minimalists (link at the end). They do exactly what it says on their tin.
They had the big careers; the big house, the big car, the big debt. They were well and truly on the education/career/debt capitalist slavery treadmill thing. Don’t get me wrong. I love capitalism, it pays the bills. All the bills. But the problem with capitalism is that it has harnessed most of us and the trick is for us to harness it.
The Minimalists: Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, were not happy playing the game. So they quit and took up minimalism.
What is minimalism?
From their site:
Imagine a life with less: less stuff, less clutter, less stress and debt and discontent. A life with fewer distractions.
Now imagine a life with more: more time, more meaningful relationships, more growth and contribution and contentment. A life of passion, unencumbered by the trappings of the chaotic world around you.
What you’re imagining is an intentional life. Not a perfect life, not even an easy life, but a simple one. What you’re imagining is your life once you get the excess out of the way and start focusing on everything that remains.
Everything that remains. Good title for a book. So they wrote it. And I read it.
Minimalism is about having what you need and no more. Outgoings that are easily covered by incomings. No clutter. No piles. No stuff living on the floor.
But this is much more than de-cluttering. It’s about living deliberately. Decluttering your mind. Deciding what you want to do and doing it. Rather than being carried along on a wave of reaction for years…decades…forever. I’ve met a lot of people in the corporate world who last made a decision about their own lives when they joined the organisation at 22. They’ve made lots of business decisions, but not many about where they’re heading. And no, deciding to take the promotion is not a decision. They have led reactive lives.
I am going to give this minimalism thing a go. I had kinda started already. I think one of the benefits of minimalism will be to slow down time. Time goes past too quickly, largely I think because there is too much noise and stuff and clutter and distraction which reduces mindfulness and makes us think there is never enough time. Whenever I spend an evening without any screens of any type, I realise there’s lots of time and it goes past quite slowly. This is calming and helps me to be present.
The minimalist lifestyle is, after all, how most people have lived for most of history and although I certainly do not believe the past was better than the present (manual labour anyone?) there will have been aspects that were better and I suspect minimalism is one of them.
I will find out.