I rarely talk about why I became a minimalist. This is because details and specifics rarely interest me in comparison to ideas. I like concepts, principles, the root cause — jumping between them — and art. But details are important to many people, whether they’re important to me, and the details give clarity and closeness. Explaining anything, even yourself, is never a bad idea, and I try to find better ways to.
My motto is to assume nothing; confirm. What is apparent to me is not apparent to others, and vice-versa. Small talk interests many people. People want to hear about the day from their spouse. Some intuitives will post a meme alluding, I never cared about the specifics, let’s talk about the big things. But the specifics matter to a lot of people — in fact, to most of the population. Consideration hold societies together. So many sensors have put up with my trains of thought, and I can learn to enjoy nuts and bolts and emotion.
Hurricane Harvey has swept through Houston. My family moved to Houston after I graduated college so that my brother and sister could attend court reporting school after me. The damage Harvey has done to homes, possessions, and peace of mind/physical health is being calculated, but it is impossible. We cannot fathom what is going on unless we’re on the ground where it’s taking place.
Sewage smell from the amalgamation of everything imaginable in Houston, the loss of life, and a what now? The processing of the event happens slowly. Water rises quickly. Some were in their beds sleeping at night. Some were on their way home from work and could not make it back to their neighborhood. Everything is lost.
It is a lot of people’s nightmare also to have to depend on others, especially in Texas. I put off getting my parents photos scanned in by a company for a long time. I always recommend people to ask for help when decluttering: a spouse to run to Salvation’s Army or a company to scan in albums. Harvey was a reminder again to do so, listening to people explain all their photos are under water, gone forever.
Disaster brings things into perspective, on what truly matters, kind of like Christmas. We’ve heard it all many times: community, family. We know this all the time, but shopping has given us something to do, to keep our mind off of our unhappiness. The ice cream cone in the mall, the new possession we search for is a little bit of solace for all the work we put in for an unappreciative spouse or boss maybe, to take us away for just a moment from the overwhelm or emptiness.
Our unhappiness is for many reasons. I don’t know if humans were ever meant to be happy. I’ve accepted happiness as more or less something that comes and goes, and that the coming and going is a natural part of life. You can’t hold on to your age or your hair, and you can’t hold on to happiness. You can take better care of yourself so you could invite happiness around more, but you can’t control it. Happiness is not even something to think about, really. Health is a lot more important. Our difficulties make us into who we are; they make us more whole internally as we age.
Passion is expensive, the passion we have for our careers and for our families. Think of all the sacrifices you’ve made. Few notice, you even barely do. Passion does not equate with happiness because passion is costly, but it gives life meaning and it makes us feel. We are drawn to passion. There is a lot of suffering and sacrifice in passion. You see it every day in court reporting school. But difficulty is a part of life, just like happiness is. It’s not something to hold on to, but something to let be. To learn from.
The Time is Now:
I became a minimalist moving from Hawaii with two FedEx giant boxes. I became a minimalist before entering college because I was afraid. I don’t know as I had lived on my own prior, when I left home at 14. But I was moving to the mainland alone, into a house with two people that I had never met. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to handle the tasks required. All I ever saw was people who didn’t have a retirement in my church; I grew up on welfare. We had so many things, but we had so little time and money.
I never had that much energy growing up, and because I’ve always been invested in my work, not that much time either. So I minimized my desires to try to find meaning and to guard energy and time. I’m no philosopher, but I share with them their low energy and a joy for a mild sense of detachment.
I don’t think we get into most things for the right reasons. We have our own fears and selfishness. But I stay for the right reasons.
I have been a minimalist now for seven years because I know that it is not limited to nomads and the outskirts of society; it is for all. You can be a professional, you can be independent, and you can entertain people comfortably, even with few possessions. Minimalism always has space for priorities and hobbies.
The time is now to examine priorities and to do the things that we have been putting off for some day. Fear can keep us back from many things, but it also can propel us to the right areas. Peace of mind comes with action and experience.