Skip to content
Branch: master
Find file Copy path
Find file Copy path
Fetching contributors…
Cannot retrieve contributors at this time
37 lines (22 sloc) 8.37 KB
title description date slug
Falling in love with the things I have instead of the things I don't
My journey back to minimalism
Thu May 23 2019

Early in 2019, I quit my job. I had been reading a lot of post modernism books, and the mundane schedule at work was not working for me. I took on the mundane schedule of unemployment instead. I found that I had a lot of extra time. Part of me knew this, and reached forward with open arms saying "embrace me simple life". During the downtime I decided to try and take on projects. Mostly software engineering project since that is my profession and hobby, but also some home improvement ones. I had a few areas around the house that seemed cluttered and my solution to this was build some cubbies. It would be perfect I could put shoes, books, small plants, things, and more things. I was discussing the plans with few close friends on a hike. Hiking is always a good catalyst for in depth conversations. When on the hike I was weighing the pro's and con's on build vs buy. I was leaning towards build because I could use my hands and be part of the process. Choose the perfect wood and probably waste half of it trying to remember how to work with wood. A friend of mine, asked why I needed these cubbies, and I think I was only able to muster was it would hold my things. She started to talk about minimalism, her experiments with minimalism, and some great minimalism books. I was familiar, since I had been calling myself a minimalist for the past 5 years. Looking back at that moment I realized that organizing the clutter was not what I needed. I needed to look at my current lifestyle and simplify.

I have this mentality of all or nothing. I have a narrow focus sometimes and my mind for a week straight was on a mission to minimize and throw away everything. The amount of downsizing I was doing was very noticeable. I had a neighbor that asked what was going on when I was carry six trash bags of clothes to my car to take to Goodwill. I can only assume a few of my neighbors thought I was moving. I also had a concerned friend that asked if I was planning to kill myself. I had to disappoint him and let him know I was just downsizing. I was certain I would have more mental clarity in an apartment clear of clutter, but I had no idea on what that mental clarity would unveil for me.

I am planning to do a deep dive, into the process I have gone through to get rid of my stuff in another post. It is still on-going and my methods are becoming more refined. I constantly am finding new ways to declutter just by documenting the process. I am going to focus more on some of the things I have found emotionally once I tidied up my life.

I sit in my apartment while writing this. Its late, for me that is 9:30 pm, and my apartment is probably the cleanest I have ever seen it. I actually polished my floors the other day and I almost fall probably 10 times a day. I am content at this moment. I have a money tree, and a candle on my coffee table. I absolutely love both of these items. The candle is Patchouli, and Frankincense and it makes my apartment feel comforting to me. The money tree is a gift from some good friends and probably one of my favorite plants I have ever had. I will sometimes rub its leafs and let it know how beautiful it is. I have to say I have this type of relationship with a lot of my current items. I can not say all of them, but I can say there is quite a few. Some that I did not expect.

I am trying to be a better person for my things. I have in the past been the type of person to thrash my things. For example: I took my Canon 80d camera on a hike in the rain and had it out the entire time. I got a lot of photos, but also a $400 repair bill after the shutter button stopped working. I was not great with my things. Even in the process of downsizing, I got rid of too much. I talked about how much I love my candle and the therapy it is for me to smell its aromas. Well I had a torch like lighter, the type you would light a BBQ with, to light my candle. I thought I had a couple of them because they came in some "value" pack, so I tossed it. Well I had also tossed the other and once I realized I had none the trash had already been taken out. I had no lighter to light my candle. It made me frustrated and also a bit sad that I was failing to evaluate which items I needed to keep and get rid of. I thought there has to be a way. I have a stove and... I found some old bamboo chop sticks and lit one with the stove, it was not that bad I got the candle lit and I was back in my happy place. I thought I was, but really the subtle scents of my candle were being masked by a smell of burnt wood. I was convinced for a while that I did not need a lighter and it was just new but I would get used it. It was not pleasant, and over the course of a week I realized how unpleasant it was.

I remember the trip to a local convenience store vividly. I was standing behind someone in line and eyeing the lighters. Bic lighters was the only option for me. I wanted something with quality and if there is anything I learned from my adolescence was that Bic lighters are quality. I had purpose buying this lighter. It was very purposeful. I felt like there was a little bit of my happiness sitting on the counter in the form of a lime green Bic lighter. I can remember I was short on money to buy there lighter I think I was trying to carry the minimal amount of things with me. Either the clerk of the store saw my desperation or I was not that short but he allowed to take the lighter. Just like an addict getting to take a hit of some good stuff I had my good and the anticipation of being light my candle gave me a sense of euphoria. I do dramatize this scene a little, but only a little.

If you were to tell me when I was younger that at the ripe age of 31 I would enjoy the companionship of a lighter. I would tell you are way off base because I do not smoke. That being said it is a prize possession I own. I will often find that I am putting it in my pocket and carrying it around. Striking the wheels to hear the satisfying scratch of Ferro-cerium. I have even had it fall from my pocket with friends around. I feel like I had to explain it was just for my candle, but I forgot that I lived in California and it would have been just as acceptable to say it was for pot.

I still have some pretty bad habits. Like what carrying around things I like. I should be placing them back into their dedicated space. I would always be able to find my favorite things if I just kept putting things back. There was a brief three days that caused me a bit of anxiety. I do want to say anxiety is a very serious thing and I may make a bit of light of my situation, but anxiety is nothing to joke about. I was looking to light a new candle I had bought. I go thought about a candle a month. I looked in the drawer that holds my lighter and it was gone. Being a minimalist you should only have a few places to check, to see if you actually lost the item. I checked all those places and could not find it. I had the fear I had lose a new friend and I would never see it again.

I have found that this has happened a few times since downsizing. Not just with a lighter but other items too. It always seems to happen with some of the either most used or most admired items I own. I am not sure why this is happening now, or if this has always happened and now the effect of losing something is much more dramatic to me. I think this is also one of the reasons I am not quick to replace these items. I feel like I want to find my lighter, and my dust pan. I do not want another one, I want my old dear friend.

I was able to recover my lighter and it has changed my behavior with all my other things I own. I love some of them, and with those items I treat correctly. I put them back in there place when I am done using them. I would much rather sit my lighter on the coffee table next to my plant. Play with lighting it, but I care about it enough to keep it safe.

If you are looking to learn more on minimalism here are a few books I have enjoyed.

Goodbye Things, A new Japanese minimalism

Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up

A Monk's Guide to a Clean House and Mind

You can’t perform that action at this time.