I’m always thinking about minimalism. A lot of why I think about it is because I have both very minimalistic tendencies as well as some on the opposite side of the spectrum. That sits well with me, because I consider it cause for alarm when one subscribes entirely to the dogma of any group. It’s a sign of not thinking for oneself.
So I think a lot about that balance. Am I becoming too minimalist? Am I swinging too far in the other direction? What’s right for me?
A common thread for me is to think about what will make my life the simplest. That doesn’t mean that I’ll have the fewest possessions or fewest relationships or fewest responsibilities, it just means that I’ll remove barriers from my life. I try to think a lot about what I want my life to look like, what will enable me to do the most, and how to minimize friction on that path.
For example, I only wear one outfit. This simplifies my life drastically as I never have to choose what to wear, laundry is always quick and easy and can be done in a sink if necessary, etc. With the exception of trying out new gear (which is both my hobby and business), I must think about clothing less than almost anyone.
At the same time, I’m in the process of setting up home bases around the world. We’re closing on a place here in Budapest next week, which makes home base number four for me. In some ways that’s the antithesis of minimalism. Four homes!
And yet it does make my life easier. Next month I’ll fly from Budapest to Halifax to visit the island, to Vegas, to San Francisco. All four home bases in a row. The island and Budapest are obviously still works in progress, but in each of the four places I have good healthy restaurants to go to, good workspaces, etc. In each place it feels like home, so I can easily be productive, enjoy myself, and have a very different inspiring experience.
I think very long term on these things. Right now I’m jumping through bureaucratic Magyar hoops to get this place purchased, but for the rest of my life I’ll have a home base for Europe. Any time I’m on the continent I can take a cheap flight home and be right in my normal routine. Best of all, I’m buying it with a small group of friends, so I’ve made it easier for me to spend time with my friends in Europe.
Minimalism is also a state of mind. Despite trying to maximize my options, I mentally condition myself to need as few of them as possible. I want to give myself a lot of flexibility, but to be able to perform well even when my flexibility is constricted. Can I be happy and productive with just my backpack anywhere? Can I have many friends around the world, but function well in isolation as well?
I think it’s easy to get caught in the weeds of minimalism, reducing everything to an extreme. Sometimes that’s a good thing because it forces you to see where your comfort zone is and push past it a little bit. But I think it’s more valuable to think about what it means practically to you, what you want to get out of being minimalist, and what the best route to that destination is.
Photo is a garden in Margaret Island in Budapest!