A duffel bag, a laptop computer, and an iPhone. That’s what I left home with 6 days ago and will continue to live out of for another 8 days. What is the point of all that stuff back in my apartment if I can live comfortably out of a duffel bag for a few weeks? I have clothes, a toothbrush, toothpaste, some soap, deodorant, 2 pairs of shoes, a pair of sunglasses, a hat, my MacBook Pro, my iPhone, 1 power charger, and my stainless steel Klean Kanteen. Guess my purging will continue when I return home – every time I go away I tend to get reinvigorated to get continue getting rid of “stuff”! Posting as been light around here because I have been traveling but should resume once I return. (Besides, does less posting = simplicity? 🙂 )
I know the lure of that — we often vacation in a cabin for a week with that and rudimentary kitchen equipment–I like to cook for myself, and I have wondered why I cannot replicate that peaceful, easy-to-maintain life at home.
I suppose it is because I crave variety in clothing–various events and weather conditions call for more types of apparel than a week on vacations does. I want books on hand to read, and some mementos and beloved art work.
I also am loathe to get rid of “perfectly good stuff” that I might need or want in the future–seems wasteful. I also simply like to buy things. It (temporarily) fills a need. I also think I will score the Holy Grail–the perfect item that I can then replace all the “perfectly good stuff” I already have.
So I am conflicted: do I simply declare a moratorium on buying anything and make do with what I have? Do I unclutter and minimize? Do I unclutter and minimize, seeking multi-function items to replace things I already own?
Simple is… Bliss. I live a fairly simple life in terms of “stuff” but I wonder how simple I could really take things.
For a family of five we aren’t doing all that bad but I know we could lessen the load. Time to start taking more notice of what we truly use. Thanks for the reminder.
I have the feeling that in all of this Zen, Minimalist thinking, there is something missing.
If you watch the show, “Hoarders”, you might have seen the story of a man that had a ton of junk laying around that the city/county/other wanted gone from his property. But to the man who had all of this “junk”, it wasn’t. It was his retirement. Most of the stuff he had was metal that could be sold off at current scrap prices to fund his golden years.
I think in all of this discussion of downsizing, we miss part of the point of acquiring things, and that is security. We don’t necessarily need everything we have, but if worse comes to worse, what do you have to fall back on? If you had lost your job. If the stock market tanked and you lost everything. If you had nobody in your life who could help. If you were just days from living on the street, what would you do if you have not acquired anything? What do you have to sell to keep you on your feet? What can you get rid of for a few bucks that could keep food on the table?
David, you yourself wrote in a post the other day about the importance of being prepared. If you get rid of everything except the bare minimum, what will you have to get rid of if times got real rough, real fast… besides some kind of government assistance? I’m talking self-reliance here.
Now, I don’t deny that there are some people who just compulsively collect stuff, but there should be a balance between one extreme and the other.
It may feel good not having all that extra stuff hanging over your head, but I believe some of that is largely frame-of-mind. You think you have too much stuff, therefore, you do.
Personally, could I live without my bunches of books? Sure I could. But I like re-reading them. Could I live without that extra frying pan? Sure, but if I wanted to, how could I cook a more complicated meal that needed multiple things cooking at once? On a daily basis, I only need one pan, but it is good to have the extra when I need it.
I’m not saying that how you are living your life, or the goals you are aiming for is wrong, I’m saying that there needs to be a middle ground. Explain to us/me why you should keep certain extra things.
People who live of dufflebags are wanderers. Then there are others that are nesters… those who want to stay in one place and make a life with their family, friends, or within their community.
Throughout human history, humans have collected and stored things. There has to be an actual reason for it besides greed. I’m inclined to believe that is a psychological need for security of some sort.
What do ya think?
I have emergency supplies, for sure. 🙂 I talk about simplicity in terms of getting rid of stuff you don’t need that just takes up space, requires too much maintenance, and doesn’t bring value to your life.
Ben and David–
You helped my clarify my thinking. Thanks!
I think a lot of it comes down to whether your stuff is serving your needs now and in the reasonably anticipatable future. Can you function on a daily basis without having to spend a lot of time managing your stuff–looking for things and so on?
I, too, have duplicate items because one may be in the laundry awaiting washing or dishwasher (which is the vastly more resource efficient way to wash dishes, btw–IF you wait until it is full).
I do need to try to make do with what I have more than I do–it’s a hoarder characteristic to seek the best thing–gifts, for example. When I travel, I make do with what I packed, and amazingly, get by quite well….
I think Ben has a valid point, that a lot of minimalist seem to sort of dodge(as well as the topic of people who like regular day jobs, which is another thing altogether).
I’ll take a stab at it. I honestly think it’s important to be prepared. I may have few items, but I carry backups. For instance, my every day carry includes a flashlight and a small folding knife. At the same time my keychain also carries a swiss tech utilikey(which has a blade), and a tiny photon LED light.
So why bring both? I grew up with the military saying of two is one, one is none. You need to expect things like batteries to die on you, hard drives failures, etc. In this case my primary tools are of a much higher quality and better use to me, but however, if something goes wrong I’ve got something to fall back on. I think the problem is when someone might have something like Surefire’s entire collection. How could an individual possibly make good use of that many lights? But there are plenty of people who do things like that.
As someone who is currently on the road for work, I apply the same logic with my other items. I bring two sets of batteries for things(one charged while the other is used), two smaller SD cards instead of a single larger, and a smaller HDD w/ a clone of my OS’s partition, etc. I hardly think I’m harding because my hotel room consists of enough that fit in a single backpack and a checked roller bag, but I’m still ready for little mishaps down the road.
However, I disagree that you need things to fall back on for a livelihood. If worse comes to worse? I’ve got an emergency fund and savings to go off of until unemployment can kick in(anyone who doesn’t at least try to have either is being foolish). I also think minimalism can solve those other issues you address. By taking away the attention given to material things, and focusing something such as having better and stronger relationships, you probably will have people to support you in times of need. By not spending money on things you won’t necessarily use/need, you have money in the bank for a rainy day. At the end of the day, I’d rather have cash than something I’d still have to sell.
I agree we need truly little to survive in life at home or when we travel. We have been simplifying for past few years, with 2 little kids, we may need more than you, that does not mean we can not simplify.
Kids at young age are so much simpler than us, and it making us encouraged in continuing to simplify further.
Yes, but no.
Simple is a duffle bag.
The iPhone and computer are not simple, just deceptively small.
But I agree with you really.
Hehe. I think the answer is [and yeah, I’m plagiarizing my own blog post here]:
“Grab a backpack, pack up your one laptop, two favorite books, three changes of clothes, and burn your house down.”
Purging is such a process though…I had my “big purge” last winter, but I’m STILL far from my goal. I haven’t done much for a month or two, but this week I’ve been re-motivated.
It’s good to read about other people who are going through the same process! Thanks for sharing!
] chloe [
the cutest simplicity.
in the world.
i adore the points mentioned in both Ben & Benjamin.
for me minimalism/simplifying is satisfying the current needs & desires of individuals comfortably, but not overwhelmingly. so everybody has his/her own standard desire line and as long as we don’t exceed it, we are living in the best simple life we can live at the stage.
i am into “purging” mode myself but it doesn’t prevent me from engaging in “preparing” mode too, only i am not too excessive in “preparing”. personally, i try to feel secure as long as i own “myself”, and i try very hard to really implement the belief in every bone of mine 🙂
i don’t want to heavily rely on back-up plans and security funds etc. if things run out the track, as long as i live with my conscious mind, i will struggle my way out and try to be optimistic enough to enjoy the great learning process. as long as i am alive, i will have values and i will try to bring the best out them in whatever situation, and that would be my best “security fund”. if i can’t bring any value any more, which means i am not even live in my own conscious, then nothing will hardly matter any more 🙂
so i will fearlessly chase for the simple fashioned lifestyle, which is the most adorable one for me on this stage, try to upgrade my value the actively, which will back up me powerfully 🙂
Thanks all for reminding me that my true needs really could fit in only a backpack!
A big motorhome is just another form of clutter (esp. in terms of debt clutter), whereas a good backpack can go hold everything I own and go anywhere, even as airplane carry-on…