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.
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.
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.