Around the same time I was exploring plant based nutrition, I was in the infant stages of other life changes. Recently single and living alone left copious amounts of time for internal reflection. I began reevaluating my purpose. Never an easy task. What was I doing with my life? How were my decisions effecting those around me? More importantly how were these decisions effecting the environment for which I was surrounded by? Am I, as an individual, doing all I could or was I simply another peg In the board? What could I do and what benefit, if any, would it have?
I will be honest I never was on board with the environmental movement or spirituality. Or maybe I was, but in a different way. Some way that presented less dogma, and more action. A way that simply stated 'I am here. Now. And maybe not forever'. My own mortality as a being was being brought to the surface through my internal exploration. Simply, I needed a change. A change from the day to day. A change from just 'being' and actually 'living'. Something dramatic needed to happen, but on a personal, scalable level.
As with anything I do, it began with research. I started frequenting blogs, the library and online videos. I found others who were going or had gone through similar journeys. They were questioning what they needed; evaluating what they wanted; and finding happiness while doing so. It was a sort of counter culture (hate that term) that was lurking in the shadows of society. It was waiting for me to stumble upon it. The idea of minimalism is nothing new. In fact some would argue that it was first. And honestly I would have to agree. At the base of our existence is a deep rooted desire to survive. Survival for us is quite simple (biologically speaking) and thus this is easy to transfer over to other parts of our lifestyles. The minimalism lifestyle appealed to me on multiple levels. So I began taking steps to restructure my lifestyle in ways that would forever change how I live.
By not needing to meet certain economic requirements I was rewarded with more free time. Free time is something that is underrated. We as a culture don't cherish it's value near enough. I recognized this and quickly became attune to the value of not having anything I 'had to do'. I filled my free time with things I wanted to do. I took up yoga. Started creating art again (something I hadn't done since high school). Most importantly I got outside. I rediscovered the joy of hiking and biking. I had been too busy the last few years. Too busy making money, simply to turn around and spend it. And what did I have for this? Debt and a sense of loneliness.
The most obvious thing was to evaluate my finances. I poured over my numbers and determined what I needed to live on. Surprisingly it was not much. Money has always played a strange role in my life. I have seen money cause issues with family. I have seen it elevate stress. Even seen the effect it has post-mortem. On the other side I have seen the positive influence it can have on quality of life. The way it can reward the hard working individual. But this wasn't about societies relationship with money, it was mine. I determined that I could live on less then I ever thought possible; less then I had gotten accustomed to. This release from economic demand allowed me to pursue employment opportunities that would neglected to support my previous lifestyle. Now don't get me wrong, I wasn't living lavishly. But minimizing my expenses further I was able to live a more fulfilling life. On less. With less.
In my free time I further conjured up ways to cut economic cost. I picked up a book on car-free living and decided it was time to cut ties with my vehicle. I wasn't using it to get to work, or grocery shop or really at all. It had simply become a $300 a month mobile storage facility. I removed the restraints of vehicle ownership and was immediately released. Eliminating the vehicle also encouraged me to purge the excess stuff. I began selling off everything I wasn't using or didn't think I was going to use. I sold a lot of stuff in a short amount of time. For the most part I have very few regrets. The items were not benefiting me at the time and were just an unnecessary burden. My 500 sq. ft. apartment grew rather quickly. But rather then try to fill it with more stuff, I let it remain. It was a reminder of how to live. How simplicity was positively effecting my lifestyle. And rather then filling the space with furniture, I filled it with friends and experiences.
So that brings us to now. The present. I have been car-free for years, and still manage to go amazing places. I own less then most the people I know, yet still manage to have enough to do the things I want to. I make hardly any money, often to the shock of people that know me. Yet I still manage to have enough money for my needs and most my desires. Is there stuff that I want? Yes. Do I sometimes wish I had a vehicle? Occasionally. Do I know that I don't need these things, but just desire them? You bet. So this post is a scatter brained case for minimalism. The beauty, the hardship and joy of owning less and living simply.