As of recent, I have been involved with an all consuming project that is sucking me dry of time and money. This occupation is the complete remodeling of my first home. I bought the house for 10,000 dollars and let’s just say it needed a crap ton of work. We had to put in new plumbing, new doors, new windows, new insulation, a new kitchen, a new bathroom, new paint, new furniture, new EVERYTHING!!! The project has ballooned into a beast that I brawl with on a daily basis. Some days I jab the beast but most days the beast punches me in the nuts. The beast has taken away one of my most precious possessions-time. Usually, I try to read two books a week and write subsequent posts; that has been extremely difficult and I feel saddened that I am deterred from my passion of knowledge. Thankfully, audiobooks were invented for these situations and I was able to listen to Moby-Dick by Herman Melville during these tumultuous weeks. To put it plainly, Moby-Dick is a masterpiece of writing and I would highly recommend listening to it on audiobook. The characters are brought to life in a way that traditional reading could never accomplish. I was able to hear the seamans’ accents, the pagans’ baritones, the shipmates’ whispers, and the fervor of Captain Ahab. The auditory reading of Ahab’s monologues will send shivers down your spine and really make you understand his obsession with the White Whale.
Ahab was a man on a mission. He could not eat, sleep, or spend one minute of his day without it being tainted with the thoughts of harpooning Moby-Dick. His pursuit of the whale was put at the highest priority and not money, family, or whale oil could deter him from his final goal. Moby-Dick was Ahab’s monster and in the end his vengeance sent him to a watery grave. It was quite fitting that I was reading Moby-Dick during what I felt was my own pursuit of a monster. I, like Ahab, could not think of anything but my project to a point where I was confused for a psychotic person. Stress, sadness, excitement, and a constant forward motion defined my everyday pursuit to “kill” my remodeling project. I was the Ahab of the land and I am still pursuing my whale. Hopefully, I will not let this project kill me but in all honestly it already has taken some of my philosophical beliefs. Before the project, I saw myself as a minimalist that followed Thoreau’s statement, “Give me the poverty that enjoys true wealth.” Now, after spending thousands of dollars I ask myself what is it that I have bought and will this bring me happiness? The whale of consumerism has swallowed me and I have sunk far into it’s rotten gut. This defiling of my beliefs is a great learning moment and I never want to forget my struggle with this beast. Moby’s Manor will be finished soon but I will never be finished fighting the urge to constantly complicate my life with excess. Simplicity and knowledge need to hone my harpoon for the white whales of my future.
My wife and I have a lot of crap! I see myself as a semi-minimalist but I still feel overwhelmed by all of our stuff. The amount of underwear between the both of us makes it look like were stockpiling for a zombie apocalypse. Go up to our attic and there is junk that is just stupid to have: assignments from old classes, a cheap plastic tape dispenser that is broken, a Hanson CD, and five ear buds that don’t fit my infant sized ear holes. Why the heck do we keep this stuff? Well I think it is because we think one day we will use it. And there lies the reason why most people struggle with an excess of everything! This point and many other minimalist thoughts were mulled over in my most recent reading Do Less: A minimalist guide to a simplified, organized, and happy life by Rachel Jonat. When we buy something we keep it because it cost us money and we believe that we will use it in the future. Unfortunately, we end up pushing said object into an unorganized space to be later forgotten and never used at all. For example, I got a hair up my but to make homemade ice cream. Well I made homemade ice cream one time and then the ice cream maker got shoved in my garage, where my Dad used it to store his golf balls. Another example, I bought some super tight jeans that made me look like a hipster even though my legs are naturally the size of a sequoia. Well I gained 5 pounds and those pants go up to my mid calves now. Did I donate the pants? No… they are still in my closet reminding me of my odd pear-shaped figure.
Living a minimalist lifestyle means getting rid of the stuff you don’t use and only keeping things that you actually need on a regular basis. By reducing the need for “things” in your life you gain more time to do the “things” that matter to you most. If you have a smaller house, a smaller car, less clothes, less electronics, less fancy food, and less internal desires…you need less money. If you need less money then you don’t have to work as much. If you don’t have to work as much then you gain more time. If you gain more time then you can focus on what truly interests you. I love this quote by Socrates, “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” In addition to obvious material excess, we need to simplify our social circles. Be willing to let go of friendships that are not a positive force in your life. Stop spreading yourself thin between a ton of superficial relationships and focus on a few deep relationships. Along these lines, find the hobbies that you truly love to do and not hobbies that you think you should do because you see others doing them (think Pinterest). So my challenge to you is to go through your stuff and donate the things that you don’t use regularly. Down size. Spend less. Have more free time. As a motivator, write in the comments your top three hobbies that you would love to spend more time on.
By simplifying my life and spending less money I will have more time to…
- Read (History, Philosophy, Psychology)
- Write (For my blog and my book ideas)
- Exercise (Walk outside and Weight lift)
Let’s end this post with a great quote.
“Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; love more, and all good things will be yours.”