My recent war that I've been waging has been against stuff. For a while (and by that I mean since 7th grade), I've produced my own income and spent most of it on things from the internet. I've talked about this before so I won't bore you with the laundry lists of my posessions.
Then when I sold my house in North Austin, I was faced with the prospect of moving all that stuff. My most financially productive years were while I lived there, so I bought a ton of stuff. During that period of collection it never occurred to me that I would eventually move. My garage as well as one of the bedrooms in the house because warehouses for my things.
When I moved, I took a pretty extreme approach. I went through every item in the house and made a decision - either I needed it or not. If it was worth more than $50 or so I sold it. If it was worth less than that I put it in a bedroom. If it was worth less than $5-10 I donated it or threw it away. I posted my address on craigslist and let people go into the bedroom and take all that they wanted. Within a few hours the bulk of my stuff was taken away.
Seeing all my stuff leave was strange. I remembered buying each item. There was the Vrtual Boy (that's a 3d Nintendo game, not some weird sex toy) that I bought on a school trip to Houston. I handed off my cuisinart ice cream maker whose arrival I eagerly anticipated for days. I watched as my plates that I had spent half an hour choosing left in someone else's hands. These were, for the most part, items that I had really wanted and spent a considerable amount of money on.
As people left with trucks and vans full of my stuff I felt like I was scamming them somehow. Here were things that I'd identified as clutter that other people were now burdening themselves with. Would that Virtual Boy actually improve that guy's life, or would it take up space in his closet? At the same time, I felt like a sucker. I'd spent thousands of dollars on these things, and giving them away was the best outcome I could find.
When all was said and done I had a small stack of boxes that fit neatly in the hallway of the condo. My entire house was reduced to just that small collection. I filled half a dumpster and dropped dozens of bag off at Goodwill.
I assumed that my distaste for stuff would wear off. It was just a temporary reaction to the drudgery of moving, I thought. I wanted to write about it here but I didn't want to go on and on about something only to change my mind a month later.
It's been over a month now, and my love for simplicity has only increased. A few days ago I went through the boxes that I had brought here and threw away half of the stuff in them. I did a clean sweep through the condo and photographed everything valuable that I didn't want. I then moved it into a closet and began listing it on ebay. I now list 2 things every day and will continue to do so until I don't have anything I don't need.
At my house I had a large HON two drawer lateral filing cabinet. I brought the files over here in several boxes. Today I went through every paper I have and shredded almost all of them. I filled up an entire trash bag with shreddings. The remainder of my files fit neatly into half of one of the small filing boxes. My parents allowed me to put a few plastic boxes in their attic of mementos (I'm far too sentimental).
Some things are hard for me to decide on. I bought the best pots and pans money can buy - All Clad Copper Core. I had them monogrammed with my name ("I'll always need pots and pans, right?") which makes them unsellable. On the rare occasions that I need a pan, using one of them is a pleasure.
What about these sequined pillows I have? They were given to me at a trade show. I like that someone gave them to me, and I think they're cool, but they serve no purpose in my life.
On a coffee table is a lamp that technically belongs to Courtney Love. She had moved out of the house without it, and I took it with me when I moved to Austin. She once confided in me that it was worth $100k (doubtful...), so I figured I ought not to leave it in the chaos that Project Hollywood had become. Still, I don't really want it, but I'm not in touch with her so I can't return it.
I have so many clothes in my closet that I paid tons of money for. I had a bit of an addiction to Cavalli, and it shows. Honestly I'd rather just wear some super functional patagonia capilene shirts now. It sounds stupid, especially considering how much I used to love to wear cool clothes, but it's not important anymore. The simplicity of having seven shirts and two pairs of pants and doing laundry once a week to keep them clean is really tempting to me. No closet needed - I'd just fold them in a suitcase.
In fact, I feel like I'm holding on to old things just because I'm worried that I'll lose my drive to make money. If Cavalli clothes don't excite me anymore, then why do I need millions?
It's little speedbumps like these that I'm still trying to deal with, but overall my progress has been amazing. When I look around and see how little stuff I have now, I feel really happy. More importantly, the stuff I do have is super high quality (worthy of being on bestintheland.com, even). I have only two computers besides my laptop (down from 20 or so), and I'm going to sell both soon.
So what's my goal with all this? To have so little stuff that I can have it all written on one page. I don't know how to explain it, but the idea of having a list of every single thing I own seems incredibly wonderful to me. Further, I want to be completely mobile. I want moving to be a simple 1 hour affair rather than a 3 day chore. You may wonder why moving is important since it's such a rare occurrence, which brings me to my next topic.
The condo has gone on the market and people have begun to look at it. The average time on the market for a property like this is 8 months, but that's no guarantee. I could be out of here next month, or I could be here for another year. There's no way to know.
This isn't an easy situation to plan for. On one hand I believe this is the best place to live in all of Austin, so I'd like to stay as long as possible. On the other hand, if I'm going to move it would be cool to have some sort of plan.
Really what I want to do is be a nomad. I love Austin, but I also love LA and Boston. More than any of those places, I love exploring the world. What if I could go to Japan for a month or two and have EVERYTHING I own with me? When I think of home I get this warm fuzzy feeling of security and comfort. I like being at home and tend to want to come back when I'm away for too long. What if home was just on the road? Would I still have that feeling wherever I went? I think so.
My ideal situation would be to find a cheap, tiny, but well appointed (wood floors, etc) apartment or guesthouse as close to downtown Austin as possible. My family and my best friends are here, so I may as well make this my home base. If I was only paying a few hundred a month for rent, I wouldn't feel like I was squandering money when I spent a month in another state or country. I'm not willing to live far away from downtown, though.
I spent an hour looking on ebay for an RV. Maybe I'll buy a 22' RV that has a little living room that doubles as a bedroom, a small kitchen (I'll replace the microwave with a light oven, obviously), and a tiny bathroom with a shower. Then I could literally bring my home anywhere in North America with me. Plus it would be so small that I could park it in front of friend's houses or in parking lots in Wal Mart. The idea of not paying any living costs is really cool too.
The only really large possessions I still have are my car (thinking about getting rid of it) and my bed and mattress. I really want to replace my bed and mattress with a luxurylite cot, but I think that might be pushing it a bit too far for the ladies.
So - that's what's been on my mind recently. Any feedback from you guys would be welcomed as always.
I enjoyed reading this. I am on the web searching for just this stuff, because I am in the process of way downsizing the junk in my life.
I keep having breakthroughs (going over the speed bumps) and find I can move to another level. That said, I have so much crap. The deaths of my father, mother and grandmother over a period of years left me so cluttered with sentimental objects. It is a lot to dig out from under.
Try getting into a "lifestyle" sport like climbing, skiing, surfing etc. I've had wicked experiences with the most amazing people in places around the world thanks to my passion for skiing and now lateley climbing. I'm now trying to change my life to make it easier to fit everything I need not only when I'm off traveling but also in my day-to-day life.
Thanks for a great blog, btw! I've been reading it now for a while but this is my first comment.
Good luck on your travels.
Your desire to make millions has nothing to do with spending it. Heck, give it away once you make it! You and I are doing what we do because we love living and we live life like a game. I don't want to die without knowing the feeling of making the big win and seeing 8 digits in my bank account. I don't even like to shop! But 8 digits is the next milestone for me. Maybe 9 will come after that? Maybe, it'll be something else that doesn't have so much to do with work.
Don't worry about going Japanese ruining your drive. You'll always have that. The condo was another milestone. You've been there, done that. Now it's not that exciting anymore because you've already sucked the life out of it...I mean the swing and Mel are about as good as it gets right? ...and they made you take the swing down...da bastards. So, what's left?
I don't think you'll ever lose your verve, man. That's what defines you. Verve and style.
BTW, you forgot to mention the internet upgrade. You gotta make sure you've got some kick ass broadband in that RV so that all your readers (me included) keep up to date on the Sagas of Ty. Perhaps you'll end up writing the new great American novel?
Haha, Evan, what you said describes my point of view perfectly... I'm not sure if that's a good thing, but hey, I am "in my late-teens." I think indugling in adolescence is something more grown people should do. If balanced out by a dose of reality, I think it would be the absolute happiest way to live life. I'm probably just naive though.
I'll add that while a thirtysomething working man living alone in an RV is creepy, a young adventurer living in one, fully aware of the humor of the situation, should be able to pull it off.
You know, Ty and I were discussing the pros and cons of RV living with regard to the ladies the other night, and here is my conclusion:
If I had really liked a guy when I was in my late-teens, I would have found this quirk funny and exciting because it's so very novel. However, I think it would be a stretch to find a grown woman who would accept this, were she not experiencing some belated adolescent indulgence of her own.
This is, of course, not a problematic situation for Tynan, because he doesn't tend to gravitate towards 'older' (read: over 21) girls, nor does he care enough about dating in general to let it sway his decision. He will have such a good time doing something so nutty, I think its relative attractiveness to lady types is a non-issue.
PS- Ty, go for the one with the skylight in the bathroom. It's a very classy touch.
Kirsten, far from me to doubt Tynans ability! Who am I to do that? It's just not something I'd personally want to do, although I can actually see it being way cooler than an apartment if you work it right...
Ty, good point about finding the women that like your lifestyle. I can't argue with that at all.
OH man... I could do a whole article about books. I like reading books, but I think they're the worst things ever to have. Talk about a poor use of space. I'd rather just read a book and then give it to a friend. Right now I have 3 books : "Is Your Genius At Work?" (awful book. If anyone wants it they can have it) "On the Road" (honestly the guy is like a blogger with a boring life) and a book about Warren Buffet that is good but a bit dry.
I don't really care if girls don't want to come to my RV to be honest, but I wouldn't expect it to be an insurmountable problem. In general I think it's best to live your life how you want to and you'll appreciate the girls that like your lifestyle.
(can you really bring a girl back to an RV parked at Wal Mart after a night out!?)
Trust me. Tynan can and probably will.
Although either can be taken to an unhealthy extreme, most people fall on the side of having too much stuff and would benefit from having at least some of your gumption. Even America's poor often have more than one television in their place, and tons of clothes.
Don't you have books, though? I have four 7ft high bookcases filled to the max. (I go to library book sales and buy anything interesting for a buck) I like the idea of having more empty space (in a Frank Lloyd Wright way), but I don't know how I'm going to be able to part with these books. I bet if I went through them tonight, I'd may be able to get rid of 10% of them, at the most. It's sad.
This is part of an ongoing series. If you haven't read them already, read :
I wrote out this entire post before, and then the computer crashed and I lost it all, so I haven't felt like working on it. Finally, I'm biting the bullet and starting over :
So I think I've been having a positive influence on Jeremy and my family as this weekend he cleaned out four (yes, you read that correctly FOUR) full boxes of DVDs. We went to Dixons Recycled on Brunswick St in Fitzroy and took them everything to have a look at and potentially buy. They bought a few things, gave us $125 and then we took the rest to the op shop. Some kid is going to be super happy to find the complete box set of the transformers cartoon series in Savers Mill Park!
We also visited my Mum's house. I've been helping her declutter her garage and we picked up the last of my boxes from my childhood bits and pieces and helped her move some furniture.
I spent this afternoon unpacking things I thought were important merely a couple of weeks ago and re-evaluated quite a lot of things and many books have joined the books to the second hand book store pile. I've got 2 stores I can take them to - one near my old work in Carlton and why near my house. I have my last shift ever at Carlton on Tuesday, so I'm going to go to the book shop after that to see what they'll buy, then take the rest to the one near my house. Hopefully I get some good money for all the bits and pieces.
I've spent a bit of time thinking about the sunk cost fallacy recently. I used to be so into collections. I had over 2,000 CDs, about the same in DVDs, and about 1,500 books. I had 3 7 x 4 bookcases double stacked with books.... Many I had never read, but I kept because I thought that I couldn't get rid of them if I hadn't read them yet OR if I'm totally honest, I thought they might make me look cool.
Honestly. What a pretentious shit I could be!