Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Minimalism. A goal.

I have a ton of shit. Seriously. I buy things all the time. From $7 knock-off wayfarers to $750 cameras. I have over 40 baseball hats. I have something in the range of 30-35 pairs of shoes (from my computer chair I can actually touch six pairs of shoes right now). I have more t-shirts than I know what to do with - some of which are over 10 years old. I have dozens of books I've never read, and itunes songs I've never taken the time to listen to. There is something about the accumulation of things that has both an awesome feeling of accomplishment, and yet, a rather empty feeling to it as well.

About a week and a half ago I was on Amazon.com again, searching for nothing and finding something. This time around it happened to be a couple of new books and another pair of shoes. As is the case with most online purchases, this one was primarily impulse, and as soon as the credit card number had been entered and the final "submit order" button had been clicked, I immediately began to question why I chose to buy shoes that cost me nearly $100 that I would probably only wear a few times a year. This is rare, mind you. I actually took a step back and wondered, "Why the fuck are you buying these? You don't need them. So why?" As soon as I realized I was unable to answer my own question, I made a promise to myself to return them as soon I got them in the mail. And I did.

You know what? It felt awesome. It felt awesome knowing that I technically just paid myself back $100. It made the fact that I got a parking ticket minimally draining on my finances. Using part of that money saved, I was able to go watch the Giants win the last game of the season, making the playoffs for the first time since 2003 - A memory that will last a lot longer than those shoes would have. More than anything though, it really made me think about all the crap I have - stuff that has literally cost me thousands of dollars, that has no significant or meaningful value.

In his most recent blog, Everett Bogue writes about what he considers the "Secret of Happiness". His most important message? You don't have to have a lot of money or things. Describing why so many people are unhappy, he says:

"You’re unhappy because you sit in a car all day, and then come back and sit on your couch all night, which makes you want to buy a new car because you think it will make you happy. Really you’re just wasting thousands of dollars on a piece of metal that isolates you from the world — and thus happiness. When you spend 20-grand on a car, you have to work a gazillion hours to pay that off...stop buying, stop watching TV, sell your crap, and start living your life."

No doubt these ideals are a bit extreme considering the way most of us are living our lives, but it sure does make you think when you read his words. Especially when you take a step back and try to realize why it is we are doing the things we do on a daily basis. He discusses all this and more in his book, The Art of Being Minimalist.

Anyway. My "End-Year's" Resolution is to go through a ton of unnecessary things in my life and see what I've been keeping because I want it or if it is in fact something that I truly need. While I will make an honest effort to minimize the unnecessary, I know that there will still be some things I will retain that will undoubtedly be extraneous. This is something new, and I'm sure I will learn to live with a lot less over time, though it has to start somewhere.

I'll let you know how it goes in the in-between time.

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