“On a basic level, there are three general methods to simplifying your life: stopping expansion, reining in your routine, and reducing clutter.”
– Rolf Potts, Vagabonding
Long before I discovered minimalism or the Kondo-method, there was a book I had read discussing the hows and whys of long-term travel. And I wasn’t ready for it when I first read it, back in 2003. The world was where I’d wanted to be, but I had a lot holding me back. It wasn’t until 2016 that I took significant steps toward making the dream of long-term world travel a reality.
Still, I combat the clutter and spending in my life. Having finished Strayed’s Wild, a portion of me wants to rid myself of nearly all my things, the bulk of which are already in a storage unit. She burned books after she read them, nightly, lightening the load of her pack to make walking just a tad easier.
We’ve all moved, and know that each time we lift that heavy piece of furniture we think that next time it’s not coming with us. But what about the smaller pieces, the things that don’t add value to our life anymore – things we just carry out of familiarity? Wouldn’t moving on be easier without them?
Maybe they’re not all material. Maybe some things we carry our internal – things that don’t serve us. Maybe those are the most important things to let go of…
There is much more to living than owning things.
Connecting deeply with other humans. Travel and exploration. The expansion of your mind through learning and practicing new skills. Being, truly being, where you are.
No one was ever who they were truly meant to be because of what they owned; rather, it was by what they did.
Reading: The Modern Minimalist Budget by Brian Night. When I first acquired this book on Kindle, who knows how long ago now, it was simply The Modern Minimalist. Adding Budget to the title may have helped him sell more copies, but I don’t know. Anyway, just a collection of little pointers on how to live with less, something I struggle through each and every week.
Listening/Watching: How the Economic Machine Works, by Ray Dalio. This thirty-minute presentation from a master of finance and business is helpful on a number of levels, and I’ve enjoyed and learned from this immensely. If you’re ever left wondering when a news anchor mentions something intangible about the economy, this provides a great primer.
Doing: Catching up. Over the past two to three months I’ve let a lot pile up that I need to get done. So I broke out my copy of Getting Things Done by David Allen, and began dorting my loops. Collecting items in the inbox can be fun, but seeing the full inbox(es) and knowing that I’ll have to process them… not so much.
Increasing output by decreasing inputs may seem contradictory. But if you read yesterday’s post, you’d know that given diminishing returns we may already be reducing our potential productivity. In nearly every case, we are. We lump so much into our lives that it’s impossible to create as we should be creating. Barely getting enough done.
So, if our productivity suffers from too many inputs, we must reduce them to reach peak productivity. Hence entire movements on time management and minimalism.
Maybe peak productivity isn’t the goal. Maybe it’s a simpler life. Or fewer bills, less stress, less to clean. Maybe it’s just the search for more happiness.
Whatever it is, it can’t be found by throwing more and more at it. It’s better to try and remove one or two things at a time until you can find some breathing room.
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Another in a series of thoughts on decluttering and belongings, the French culinary specialists have given the world mise-en-place, or everything in its place. And the principle extends beyond the kitchen. When I lived in my small home, I tried to adhere to this principle to maintain my sanity (with mixed results).
How far you take it is up to you. Maybe the bookshelves keep a clean and orderly appearance.
Or you meticulously organize your pantry.
On the other hand, maybe you’re lucky if everything fits on a shelf.
Whichever side you currently find yourself on, remember that it can be better. Find a home for everything – one that looks pleasing to your eye. Then, make sure every item returns to its home after use.
If you don’t have room for everything, then that’s a discussion for a later time.
When working towards simplifying life, it’s easy to forget to take care of certain things. Relationships, for one. And the quality of your relationships directly affects your well-being.
Remember to be honest with those closest to you, and honest with yourself. What are you trying to achieve? And why? Knowing your reasoning, and being able to communicate it, will go a long way towards easing your transition into a scaled-down lifestyle.
Another week, but the first of November. This year is really flying by.
What I’m reading: Dracula by Bram Stoker. Maybe I should have read this in October, but I didn’t have the idea until I started working on my NaNoWriMo project. I tried once when I was younger, but I couldn’t get very far into it. It reads better for me now, and I hope to have it done this weekend. Plus, since I couldn’t find my paperback I just downloaded a free copy on iBooks.
What I’m listening to: Tim Ferriss Show from October 17 – the Random Show with guest Kevin Rose. So, I used to watch Kevin Rose and Leo Laporte on TechTV (this was quite while ago). Hearing this interview was inspirational in a bunch of ways. For one, I myself am a Japanophile, as are Rose and Ferriss. They discuss Japan, travel, entrepreneurship, and really enjoying life. And I think it all comes down to enjoying life.
What I’m spending time with: I’ve been working on a project with a friend of mine. About a year ago I had the idea for a resource for performers, and we’re putting the finishing touches on it. It hasn’t been all that time consuming, but I’m glad that I get to tick one project off the list.
Other things of interest:
…Sounds like I’m in school. Okay, maybe not this one either. But here we go!
What I’m reading: Joyland by Stephen King. Another (quasi-)carnival tale, of murder, ghosts, and the shine. Just happened to dig into it, and I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t the longest Stephen King novel by any stretch of the imagination, but it wasn’t the shortest either. All in all, however, it flowed quickly and kept me engaged to see what would happen next.
What I’m listening to: Longform’s interview with Rolf Potts. When I went looking for the first interview I heard, I found a collection of interviews over at Rolf Potts’s website.
What I’m spending my time with: The AFI 100. They’ve been on my list for a while, and I’m checking them off. So far I’m fifteen films in. I’m planning on getting them all watched by the end of the year.
Other things of interest:
- It’s fall! Here’s a recipe for slow cooker mulled cider. It’s delicious, and you can spike it per the recipe. I find brandy works well also. The last recipe I used also suggested 1 qtr. cup of maple syrup.
- Minimalism is overrated. This article from the Wall Street Journal mentions moving past the fear of overindulging in buying.
- AltNYC Opera’s in-development production of The Halloween Tree. Synopsis and excerpts from workshop included in the link. After reading Something Wicked & Halloween Tree, I did a good amount of Bradbury investigating and discovered this.
- I was introduced to this financial blog – Our Next Life. Not just about budgeting, but long-term travel and early retirement.