Saturday, September 11, 2010

A slave to your vision

I've been reading a lot about people living small when I probably should have been reading a lot about economics. One blogger I've been casually following only owns about 60 personal items and seems pretty jazzed about it -- to the point of making a blog about it and selling it to readers. Here is his blog: My concern with this particular lifestyle is that it doesn't seem to be very self-sufficient. My vision eyes alone -- beautiful and flawed as they are -- put me at around 10 personal items! Several pairs of contacts, a pair of glasses, two contact cases, contact solution, two pairs of sunglasses (work and play don't mesh well in this realm) and two bottles of eye drops.

While I see where this lifestyle is going, and appreciate what it is saying, I personally find self-sufficiency to be higher on my list of priorities than minimalism. If one of my bicycles breaks down (I have three and ride them all regularly), I have the tools -- and usually the parts -- to fix them. If I didn't own said items, I guess I would have to rely on my friends who don't live minimalist lifestyles to bail me out, and isn't that cheating? Worse yet, I could over-pay a bike shop to handle my potentially D.I.Y. job, and that's not really where I want to spend my money. After all, the motto was "Stop consuming and start living," not "start working and start spending so you can have less shit to keep at your house; then start living."

In this guy's defense, I think most people own too much stuff. While many of my possessions are geared toward utilitarianism and self-sufficiency, many are also redundant and unnecessary. To many shoes, too many white t-shirts, too many... actually that's about it. Lots of shoes and white t-shirts. I do encourage people to try and live with less, but not at the expense of being self-sufficient. I think thee real message here is to avoid fencing yourself in with personal possessions when there is a whole lot more to experience. The first thing I did a long time ago was get rid of my television. If I've got a couple hours to kill, I spend it reading, or looking at art, or riding my bikes. If I absolutely have to watch something, I do it on my computer and try to make it more stimulating than television blocks. To me, that had more impact on changing my life than liquidating my assets and living bare bones.

While people who say you need to live off the grid, or live a minimalist life, or even generate no waste have good points, you don't need to take the extremes they did to live happily. Live well, eat well, be well and move well, and do it all with somebody fantastic. The rest should come naturally.