Ironically, this post will be about minimalism, yet I will probably write a large amount. Perhaps this post won’t necessarily be about minimalism, at least not all of the time. But I feel like this topic seems to be on my mind frequently. How do I unclutter my room? my workspace? my thoughts? my life? Around the time of high school I began wondering why we have all this stuff. On the grand scale of things, I didn’t really like the thought of having to worry about all of my possessions. On a smaller perspective, having a lot of luggage when I traveled was annoying. On an even smaller scale, I didn’t like (and still don’t, to this day) having anything in my pockets; it’s just too distracting. Then I read the book On the Road. I thought, ‘why do we even need stuff? These characters don’t need stuff and they’re having the time of their life!’ Then I went to Hong Kong, a very materialistic city. At first I was tempted into buying stuff. So much stuff to buy in Hong Kong la! But as the semester went on, I began to become disillusioned to the whole “possession” thing. I mean, really, who needs a bed? A nice mat is much more compact and the floor will help your back problems! Who needs a table or chairs? dressers? TVs? personal computers? Waste of money and space! I’m still waiting to see if any of those radical views come back to normalcy, but we’ll see. I doubt I’ll own a bed.
The fate of this blog is yet to be decided. I don’t feel the need to write this semester, and when I do, I usually journal reflectively. I should probably change the layout, but I’ll get around to that eventually. I doubt I’ll have much free time to worry about silly things like headers and blog names. I have a somewhat busy schedule this semester, but it seems to be filled with memorizing, group projects, leading, following, talking, listening, reflecting, rather than math or whatnot. My senior year v.2.0 seems to be just about right. I’m finally getting to that point where I’m starting to tire of the residence halls (mostly due to the bland food), but after 4 years I guess that’s expected.
Back to the topic at hand, I was reminded of a scene from a French movie called Entre Nous, or at least I think that’s what it was called. I remember the movie in very little detail, but I do remember the use of the marital bed. In the beginning, the couple had a tiny bed, and they were emotionally close. In the end, the couple had a huge bed, and they had grown apart. Likewise, in the movie Citizen Kane, the scene depicting the deterioration of Kane and his wife’s marriage has a similar device in that the table at which they eat breakfast continues to lengthen, visually reinforcing the idea that they gon’ get dee-vor-sayed. I’m not sure why I suddenly recalled the movie Entre Nous, nonetheless, it reminded me of my continuing examination of minimalism. Specifically, is it possible for a married couple to remain close over the years? Does an absence of stuff make it easier to have the relationship as the main focus of the marriage?
What does a life free of stuff look like? I have a suspicion that if you don’t have stuff, you must fill your life with other things, since that is, in fact, our life’s purpose: to fill it up. So, if you don’t have stuff, would relationships with other people be the next best thing? They are free, after all. Earlier in the summer I was thinking about what I wanted to fill my life with after college, and I could only think of 5 things that I really couldn’t live without: Jesus, traveling, cooking, personal relationships, and exercise. If you had to choose just 5 things to live with or 5 things to pursue for the rest of your life, and nothing else, could you do just that? Would you do just that? Obviously not everyone wants to live such a simple life, and that’s fine. But it’s difficult to become a master at a skill when you have twelve different skills you’re simultaneously trying to master.
I’m not suggesting that I want to go off the grid (although that idea is appealing) or that I want to adopt a Luddite/Amish lifestyle. I am, however, considering getting rid of all of my non-essential items and never looking back. Right now, I literally need just a few things, including toiletries, a pen, a pencil, a notebook, school books, and clothes. All the other things that I brought with me, I intend to use (e.g., stapler, roller blades, personal literature, camera), but irregularly or infrequently. Do I really need them? Maybe.
Has having a lot of possessions ever been directly shown in a positive light? What I mean to say is that I recalled the movie Up in the Air while typing this post, and the main character gives a few motivational speeches during the movie about why you shouldn’t have stuff in your life. However, has anyone been so far as to say that you need stuff? I believe the American dream had shifted to a state that embraced the idea that money and things can bring you happiness, but maybe it hasn’t been so directly stated?
Up until now, I’ve been referring to ‘things’ mostly as material goods. However, I do realize that we can clutter our lives with other things, such as tasks, goals, commitments, internet, etc. I also want to rid my life of these excess things. Obviously there is a certain level of responsibility, and a fair amount of doing is always a good thing. What is the point where too many things weigh us down?
Anyway, these are just some of the thoughts that’ve been floating around in my head for the past few days/weeks/months/years. Happy September! Before you know it the warm weather will leave us and the death-grip of Winter will try to kill all living organisms, eradicate hope of warmth and sunshine, and generally demoralize anything with a soul. So enjoy the weather ba!
As an aside, I experience a phenomenon where I look at a digital clock and the time will be 9:11. AM or PM, it doesn’t matter. I started noticing it in high school. Maybe I’m just paranoid, or have a tendency to check clocks at 9ish, but there’ve been some times that were too crazy. I can’t recall any off the top of my head. Anyway 9/11 is coming up, and that’s what reminded me of it. Also because the phenomenon happened to me twice this past week.