Minimalism: It’s Not Just For Bikinis Anymore

A while back, I read an article somewhere on the internet (I feel like it was Lifehacker, but don’t quote me on that) about how there are many different ideas behind what’s considered to be “essential” for living in this day and age. For some, essential life needs include television and social media, while others see furniture and fried chicken as key parts of their life. Myself? So long as I have a bed to sleep on and an internet connection (be that via wifi or smartphone), I’m content.

In a similar vein of thought, two Christmases ago, I had a rather lengthy vacation I took to use up the vacation days I would otherwise lose at the end of the year. During said break, I had someone call me a minimalist in reference to the amount of stuff I own. Admittedly, this confused me just a bit, as I feel like I own too much stuff. I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 books on my shelf((I realize that’s not many, as I had over 250 when I lived with my grandma)), not to mention a table, chair, television, Xbox, and a couple of guitars. Granted, the only thing that lived in my bedroom is a Christmas tree (as I had no where else to store it) and my clothes, but that’s still something.

Look, three. Oooooh. Ahhhhh.
Look, three. Oooooh. Ahhhhh.

When I lived in Arizona, I could fit all of my belongings in my old car, Elliott. Said car was a 2001 Oldsmobile Intrigue, and had enough space to comfortably hold me, my cat and his kennel, along with everything I own without too much tetrising in my trunk. Literally the only thing I needed to buy when I moved cross-country was a mattress, which I got from my grandmother for the low price of free, and a table which cost me about $50.

Living with very few possessions is a liberating feeling. If I ever wanted to just pick up my stakes and move somewhere, all I’d really have to worry about is when my lease ends, and then I could just go. Granted, I wouldn’t do that, as I’m sure my wife would be quite upset if I just decided to move to Seattle, St. Paul, or some other locale just for the hell of it, but the fluidity is present when you don’t have much.

Minimalism allows you to take that dream job wherever you want without the major worry of how the hell you’re going to get a 50-inch TV , a bookshelf, and your mattress into the back of a Dodge Durango. Sure, you could use a moving service, or even rent your own U-Haul. Those things cost money though, which would be another defeating point of a minimalist lifestyle.

Take a moment to ponder the following thought. Would you rather have lots of stuff now or later (if you couldn’t choose both, obviously)? Personally, I’d rather sacrifice having anything now if it meant having a lot later. There’s a reason my bookshelf is 60 years old and made from worn sheet metal rather than smelling of rich mahogany. That reason is that when I’m all grown up (I really don’t consider 27 grown up…sorry 18 year old adults) with a family, I’d like to have said mahogany book case to store the many leather-bound books that I’ll have, along with my non-leather-bound books, my kids books, my wife’s books, and my future pet’s books, if it’s a cat, that is.

Sorry dog lovers. Your pets are illiterate.

Frankly, I’m looking to get rid of some of my stuff. I have plenty of clothes I never wear, so those could easily be donated to Goodwill. I have a DVD collection of about 30 movies, only 7-10 of which I’ve watched in the past six months. I don’t really need all these things. Yes, they’re nice to have, but they’re all things beyond what I consider the essentials. One one hand, that means I’m doing better than just having the basics. On the other hand, it means I’ve spent money in places where I could have been saving it.

What are your thoughts on minimalism? Is it good to have a lot of stuff around, or does all that stuff just get in the way of living life? Sound off in the comments.

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10 thoughts on “Minimalism: It’s Not Just For Bikinis Anymore

  1. I think minimalism is an awesome idea, but I am a pack rat by nature and don’t think I could ever do it. I moved last week and it took my car, my parents’ car, and a Uhaul trailer to get all my crap from one place to the next. That was after I donated two trash bags full of junk and a lamp to Goodwill…. I hold onto stuff for way too long for sentimental reasons and that gets me in trouble. I also own like 150 DVDs…. and I’ve probably watched 5 of them in the last 6 months. But it’s a collection! And my brain reasons that I should keep them.

    I think it’s refreshing that you don’t need a lot of stuff. None of us really NEED most of the crap that we hold onto I don’t think… I like owning stuff but I’ll admit it can sometimes hold me down.

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    1. It’s a bit jarring dealing with the opposite side of the spectrum, but I’ve done it for most of my life. Both my dad and my mom are pack rats to varying levels, as are my grandparents on both sides. My wife can be that way at times, though she’s not nearly as bad as any of the aforementioned family members. In moving in with my wife (then fiancee), I donated or threw out about 30% of what I owned. I really don’t need stuff. So long as I have internet, a place to sleep, and a place to eat/make food, I’m really content.

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  2. I am definitely a hoarder and struggle with getting rid of/not accumulating stuff. When I packed up to come to Dublin, I definitely didn’t manage to throw out as much stuff as I would have liked… probably because I started the process super late, but still. I did cull a lot.

    I’d like the feeling of being able to fit everything in my car, but seeing as if/when I ever move out of NZ permanently, it won’t be for another city but for overseas, so that is logistically redundant. But a good idea though. Trouble is… my double bass alone takes up half my car 😉

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    1. I feel like I’ve probably donated around $750-$1000 of stuff to various charities/Goodwill this year alone thanks to moving (nevermind the amount that my wife has donated as well). It’s not so much that I want to cull things as much as it is I’ll see stuff I have and realize I really don’t need it. Occasionally it comes back to bite me, but more often than not my initial instinct was correct.

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  3. While I can’t say I’m a minimalist, I’m also not huge on having a ton of stuff. We have our indulgences (gaming consoles/video games, board games and books are definitely the top three), but for the most part, we’re not all about filling our house with just ‘stuff’. If I buy something, I like to have a purpose for it. I also don’t like having to have a ton of shelves and things everywhere, though right now we’ve had to settle for a number of small ones I accumulated over the years because we simply can’t afford the bigger shelves.

    We get a lot of stuff bought for and given to us by relatives, so I’m a regular purger. Once a year I like to go through and get rid of things we haven’t touched in the year; everything from clothes to gadgets, household items, etc.

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    1. I really need to purge some of the clothes I have. I have far too many t-shirts and button up shirts, and a few of them are far older than should me worn to work.

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  4. I can fit everything I own into a car as well. I don’t have a bed–I sleep on the floor. I have very very few belongings…a very small desk and chair, my clothes and backpacking stuff, my bike, 25 books or so and a few records, a plate and glass and turkish coffee set, my cats, and my bed roll. And I fucking LOVE it. Nothing feels better than knowing I can move myself and my cats easily if I need to (I’ve needed to move in a day 3 times in the past and I learned valuable reduction lessons every time). I can also move without help because I don’t own anything I can’t lift alone. I also really really like or need everything I have, which makes me feel wonderfully uncluttered. My life is hectic. I don’t need my quiet time at home to feel hectic too.

    I also do a purge every 6 months or so, where I go through everything (especially my clothes and shoes, which I particularly tend to collect) and cleanse.

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who feels good about this. A lot of people I meet think I’m really really weird!

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    1. I’m fairly certain you have me beat on the minimalism thing. I wouldn’t own backpacking stuff (I’m not the outdoorsy type by any mean), but I feel like I could learn some lessons from you. I had managed to cut things down pretty well between my two cross country moves a few years back. I really need to go through and take care of clothes that I own. I have far too many for my liking.

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      1. Clothes are by far my biggest weakness–I have lots. I love them. But I try to only keep things I actually wear, which is why I purge about twice a year. At the end of summer, I get rid of all the summer clothes I didn’t wear, and at the end of winter, I do the same things with sweaters and tights.

        I had started to accumulate a lot more belongings when I was in a relationship. Between Tyler and I, we filled a small 1 bedroom apartment. But I let him keep most of the shared things–kitchen stuff, furniture, etc–and now I rent a room and use my roommate’s dishes and furniture and such. So that was a really easy way to force myself to minimize. And I much prefer it this way!

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        1. I lived on my own for the better part of 5 years, but never really accumulated anything of note. I do prefer a bed to an air mattress/futon, though that’s more because of the neck/back pain I’ve had sleeping on things that aren’t beds in the past (not to mention sleeping in a recliner every weekend that I stayed at my mom’s from age 9 to age 13). That said, there’s a lot of other stuff I personally own (not shared stuff), that I really don’t need.

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