Minimalism has been on my mind for a few reasons recently. First, I bought a motorcycle. If minimalism were a religion, I'd probably be excommunicated for having more motorized vehicles than I have pairs of socks (RV, motorcycle, folding scooter, and electric skateboard vs. two pairs of socks). Second, I had a long conversation with Leo Babauta about minimalism, which brought it from the background of my life to a concept actually examined and discussed. And last, Erica twittered a video about minimalism that's clearly a parody, but makes some valid points along the way.
I sat at a poker table for a few hours tonight and got the coldest run of cards I've had since I can remember. I didn't lose a lot, I just sat there and folded everything. All that time that I WASN'T spending outfoxing my opponents and pulling down monster pots was spent thinking about why I became a minimalist, why I've stayed a minimalist, and what the point of it all is.
I became a minimalist on a lark, which, for better or worse, is why I do a lot of things. I bought an RV, thinking I'd take road trips in it, and from that point on I never slept in my condo again, and I started selling everything. Momentum kept pushing me, and before I knew it I didn't own anything that didn't fit in my 28 liter backpack.
The point of minimalism, for me, was unearthed as I continued to live with relatively few possessions and even fewer obligations. I realized that it wasn't about having nothing-it was about having only things that mattered.
An ex-girlfriend of mine, once frustrated with some probably-extreme action that I was insisting on, pleaded with me: "You know, Tynan, not everything has to be as efficient as possible." But for me, it does. I find a certain Zen in efficiency. Minimalism has just become the extension of that.
Before I began sloughing off possessions and obligations, I let the tide rise and carry all of my boats with it. I had a Mercedes, so I needed a nice big house. I had a big house so I needed to put a movie theater in it. With such big closets and regular attendance at nightclubs, I needed a huge expensive wardrobe. Even things I didn't really care about, like china, needed to be a big deal. I bought two sets of Wedgewood bone china, so that I could serve 16 if necessary.
Minimalism helped me understand that imbalance can be a good thing. I live in 80 square feet on the side of the road. Space isn't important to me, and neither is permanence of abode. So I scrape those to the absolute minimum. The function of clothes is important to me, so I have really high quality "outdoors" clothes. But I have only two shirts and a pair of pants. I don't need to signal my status with my shirts.
Minimalism has given me focus. In the time I'm not raking my non-existant yard and not shopping for the latest fashions, I am doing things that I care about. My spending becomes as focused as my time. Most of my expenses involve healthy food and getting places (vehicles / plane tickets). Those are things I care about, and because of my experimentation with minimalism, I'm able to enjoy them more. My time and money are spent efficiently.
Minimalism should be a tool, not a cult. I think it's a good default, too: when in doubt, don't accept obligations or buy things. But if you've really thought something through and want to buy it, even though it might not fall in line with traditional minimalist dogma, go for it.
I have the time to be writing 2+ blog posts a week, but not the focus. I spend all of my time thinking about my new project. I hope you'll bear with me as I post 1-2 times per week for a while until I release my new thing. I think you'll find it worth it.
A quick shout out to Chuck Callebs for writing a really flattering paragraph about me on his blog. As suspected, I don't have time to be a mentor, but I do appreciate it. Also a shout out to Carlos for translating Life Nomadic into Spanish! I haven't had time to format it (or write him back yet. soon!), but I'm psyched!
A few TaskSmash codes:
Minimalism has become an upper-middle-class fad for young professionals. Most will fall off the wagon as they get older. I have seen it happen numerous times when the novelty of minimalism wears off and they realize that status is more important in their lives.
I have been a "minimalist" for 2 decades. I quoted minimalist because that word is subjective. Some people think owning one car is being a minimalist, while others believe a true minimalist would never own a car. I am more extreme than others, but am still far from being a complete minimalist.
I own a used vehicle that was paid for in cash. I live in a small studio apartment. I own one chair and one air mattress with no frame. I own one landline phone and one stereo, which are my only 2 forms of electronic entertainment. I own one plate, one fork, one spoon, one sharp knife, one drinking glass, one spatula, one large spoon, one large skillet and one large pot.
I own more clothes than I need. I do this to avoid having to wash them as often. I only do laundry once every 2 or 3 weeks. Since you always use the entire washer and dryer space, regardless of how many clothing items you own, it only makes sense to fill it completely.
Being a single man with no children, I see no point in owning more. Plus, should I ever have to move, I can be out of my apartment in less than 30 minutes, without having to rent a moving truck.
This probably explains why I am still single, since most women view me as an extremist, and would not want to be with someone who doesn't live a middle-class or above lifestyle. But I have my dog, and we are happy. We don't need money to have a good time. We spend most of our time going on walks or to the dog park. The other half of my recreational time is spent with family and friends.
I guess owning nothing and being a quarter million in debt make me an extreme minimalist. Gotta long way just to get to nothing. Knew I'd be a hero in some field. jamie
Sorry about that, computer user error occured. The point I was trying to make is that Jason's quote is on traget with how I have been feeling. I still have quite a few possessions, I need to do some serious spring cleaning this year - but I have been trying to lighten my obligations a lot so my girl and I can do what we want to do. There is so much marketing done and it's so easy to fall for if you aren't aware of it. The less we have the less there is to break and fix or even maintain. The older simpler things are often easier to repair/rig and cost less to maintain. We are buying an old house in good condition and adding a wood stove for suppliment heating. There are so many 'free wood, pick up' ads here we could heat the place for free all winter if needed.
Jason Naas - "Minimalism should be a tool, not a cult...
I couldn't agree more. I've been whittling away at my possessions, obligations - and expectations - for nearly four years. Along the way, I've read nearly every blog post from the major 'minimalism' blogs that have come along. Some are very inspiring and affirming, but some are very clique-ish and cultish, as you say. I've found that just going my own way and avoiding the marketing yahoos posing as minimalists makes me a lot more comfortable.
i just watched this ted talk by sean bonner about Neominimalism and the Rise of the Technomads
and thought i'd give you the link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYFmJ9y6svg&NR=1
This blog has inspired me to at least move towards minimalism. As I've tried living with less stuff I've realised how much stress stuff can cause. It's not obvious, health-destroying stress, but it all adds up in tiny amounts.
I've also realised how much money we waste on stuff, and am finding a lot more room in my budget to be doing more interesting things, like traveling.
My lady and I have done the same thing as Tynan. We sold everything, quit our jobs, and drove across the country in a 1985 Lesharo Winnebago we named Marty McFly. It is a little less reliable, but we enjoy the adventure. It tends to get us in all kinds of mischief besides what we bring upon ourselves. If anyone is interested check us out at
I had to double, and then triple, check this, but apparently I've never written a post on minimalism before. Then again, I live in an RV smaller than your walk-in closet, so I don't suppose this post will come as a surprise to anyone. Still, it's probably worth writing a few paragraphs about it for anyone who is considering paring down, but has some lingering objections to it.
Back when I was a professional gambler and made a ton of money, I did what anyone with a lot of money would do: I bought a house. My house was about 1800 square feet, which isn't a big house by today's standards, but is quite a lot of space for one person. What I didn't consider was that a house comes bundled with pressure to fill it with stuff.
So I did. I bought tables, couches, chairs, beds, knick knacks, plants, pots, pans, dishes, and four robotic lawnmowers. I converted one of the rooms into a movie theater and another into a warehouse to store all of my stuff. If I wasn't a compulsive shopper, I was at least an enthusiastic one. All the while, I never really thought about the end-game of all this stuff. I knew how to get it into my life, but never really considered how I'd get it out eventually.
NOTE: Work in this case means anything that is done for money, not necessarily explicitly for money, but done with money in mind, as a component, or as a tool in. Of course work has many definitions and I don't even completely agree with the one stated above, but I needed a word that would articulate what I wanted to represent without being verbose.
After spending the last few years reading just about every major hack-the-system, be productive, quirky blog out there that tells you to start your own business, or become location independent I've realized that a lot of them resonate with me, but aren't really what I want. Take for example Tynan. I love his blog, the fact he finds innovative, different, quirky ways to solve problems. The gear he picks is some of the most niche, and effective gear for getting the results he wants and fit very well into his ecosystem. He has cool stories and spends a lot of his time (especially as of late) becoming extremely productive and getting a lot done. But lately I've been noticing a trend in many bloggers focusing on creating things bigger than themselves, leaving a legacy, and so on and so forth. They work because they want to solve a problem in the world, or they want to leave something behind, or they want to create something greater than themselves. I have nothing against this personally, and maybe I am still too shortsighted to see the benefits of it, or maybe I'm missing something, but that isn't why I work.
Ultimately I've realized I work because I want to be able to afford not to work.
The truth is while I don't hate work, I hate not being able to afford not to work. Its funny cause, this very characteristic is what drives many, if not almost all top performers. Top athletes can't afford not to exercise and train, top programmers can't afford to spend long amounts of time not coding. Sometimes it isn't because of the money, many top athletes could very well stop training and exercising and be able to live very comfortable lives. Sometimes its that "I don't know what to do" factor. I mean if you think about it, if you spent years after years having the goal of becoming best or very good at X and you finally reached that goal, after expending vast amounts of time, energy and attention reaching it, it would be incredibly hard to separate your identity from it, and in some cases you would even feel guilty or have a sort of mid-life crisis giving it up, as happens to many top sports-stars.