Being a Minimalist
A little over a year ago I took early retirement and began my dream of adventure and traveling the world. After years of self-examination, I realized the ordinary wasn’t satisfying me and I craved adventure more than possessions and choosing to be a minimalist would help me reach my goals. One of the hindrances holding me back from the adventure, and one of my biggest mental challenges, was getting rid of all the physical stuff I had accumulated over the years. Yes, there were a few things such as heirlooms and handmade gifts from special people that held special value (and which I have since stored at a family member’s house) but the truth is, most of what I possessed, was nothing more than rapidly depreciating rubbish accumulated from years of blind consumerism. During the last year, the challenge was to get everything reduced to where it would fit into my car and I did it. Today I own no car and my challenge is to reduce even further to where I can move from country to country with only a few pieces of luggage on airplanes. Going minimalist has enabled me to afford not only my retirement but also to afford my life.
Less than five years ago I was living the so-called middle-class American dream. I had a suburban house in a gated community, a circular driveway full of cars, watercraft and other toys, big screen televisions on the walls, stainless steel appliances and granite countertops in the kitchen, Italian leather furniture and closets full of clothes. I also had storerooms full of things I didn’t need but didn’t want to get rid of either. On the surface, it looked appealing. After all, this is what we all strive for right? Less than five years ago I also had a fifty-mile commute, sleeplessness, high blood pressure, and a mild depression. That part wasn’t so great but most of my friends suffered from the same or more so I didn’t complain too much. It was what was expected of people in my situation and modern society offered up enough distractions to where I didn’t think about it too much.
Today I am 51 years old wow have things ever changed. In the mornings I can’t wait to start the day, my blood pressure is great and at night I sleep like an infant. I am more alive and in better shape than I have been in 20 years. My mind is clearer; I am more open to experience and every day is an adventure. I no longer feel the need to feed the hungry monster of empty consumerism and its insatiable demands. Going minimalist has given me the clarity to realize that chasing happiness in that way was futile, unending and hollow. Now I have experiences instead of stuff.
There is a luxury in having less. Spending one’s precious time maintaining things of little value or utility is not ownership. In fact, if that is how you spend your days I maintain that your things own you more than you own them. I am sure there are people that look at my situation and think I have nothing. On the contrary, by living life as a minimalist I have more of that most precious of all commodities; time. I am free to experience life to the fullest without being anchored in place by possessions. In the immortal words of Henry David Thoreau “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone”.
I am fully aware that living a minimalist life is not for everyone and who am I to judge what is right for you or your circumstance? I do however hope that YOU may take a few minutes and judge for yourself if forever holding onto possessions or accumulating even more things of little value or utility makes you happy. If you truly find happiness in your stuff enjoy. If you truly want to change your priorities you have the power to make the change.