Monday, April 19, 2010

Minimalism

Today, I spoke with a regular at my job who has no dishes, pots, pans, or silverware in his apartment. He also has no pictures on his walls, no plants, no books, and no pets. His theory: "If I don't use it everyday, why do I need it?"

He eats at my job, on average, six out of seven days a week. He works as an ad executive and also dabbles in music. He travels a lot. The last four years is the longest he's lived in one place in his adult life. Despite this fact, he's still reluctant to get too comfortable in once place, and certainly doesn't need the usual "clutter" in his life to feel at home.

"Magazines on coffee tables, for example, are pointless. Why do you have magazines from six months ago on your table?"

He's a pretty normal guy: he works endlessly, never has company, and is very private. He appears fairly bright. This man makes it a point to rid his life of any "excess baggage or pointless inanimate objects." An image of George Clooney's in Up In the Air comes to mind.

His story begins in Central Florida. He was born into a happy home with loving parents and siblings. What sticks out most is his mother's obsession with "stuff". He told me about a spare bedroom that became a storage closet of sorts. Childhood memories, old furniture, outdated clothes, and abandoned fitness equipment could all be found there.

When he came West, he moved into a huge apartment that was "exquisitely" laid out, with perfectly arranged furniture, books, posters, plants, fountains, statues, etc. Then he moved, throwing a few things away. And moved again, throwing a little bit more away. And again. And again, moving with less "stuff" each time. Now: "If I needed to move, I could do it in an hour," he summarizes.

I couldn't fathom not having a fork in my apartment. Having drifted around Brooklyn during my time there, I cherish something as simple as HAVING a place in which to place the "stuff" that I've acquired over the past few months. I do respect this man's views on minimizing one's life, but I feel it's necessary to be surrounded by things you place value on that make you comfortable in your environment and/or trigger positive thoughts and memories.

Before I moved to Los Angeles, I spent two weeks cleaning out my Brooklyn apartment. During that time, I had to sort through boxes of (essentially) junk that I'd held onto since high school for one reason or another. A ziploc bag of love letters from back when I was "interacting" with two boys and two girls at the same time. Also: Amusement park wristbands, school talent show programs, restaurant receipts, etc. Stacks of emails from the last girl I dated (the one who wanted to get pregnant, resulting in a pregnancy scare, thus ending my career as a fisherman), that I hadn't looked at in years. While far from the packrat I used to be, I momentarily revisited many of the memories attached to each item, and was able to throw things away to allow for an easier move.

I am big on nostalgia, but the occasional cleanse is healthy. While I've acquired dozens of books in the last few months, but rid my life of people, things, and situations that didn't improve my quality of life. Being aware of health issues and goals on my horizon, I found it necessary to lighten my load, in a sense. I've even had to re-evaluate relationships with so-called "best friends" (more on this later) and focus on proven, more promising bonds. As a result of all of this, I am the healthiest (mentally) that I've been in years.

What have you had to let go of recently?

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