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hardxsun asked: I'm really enjoying your blog. Both your writings and the thoughts behind them are great. Minimalism is something I have been striving towards recently as well.

Thanks! It’s been slow here as my work has me much on the road, but the wheels are turning- more to come!

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"So that’s what days were like. A bunch of tiny frustrations, and a bunch of tiny successes. But they added up. Even something which seems like a tiny, inconsequential frustration affects your mood. Your emotions don’t seem to care about the magnitude of the event, only the quality." 

This is why we pare down the crappy frustrating objects in our lives and keep only the good ones. Every time you touch a crappy frustrating disposable thing, you throw a coin on the “I hate my life” end of the balanced scales. Read the whole thing - it’s worth it.

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Coming soon : The simple pleasures of baking bread.

Coming soon : The simple pleasures of baking bread.

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"Perhaps it would be the exaggeration of eulogy to call me a tidy person. But I can always pretty satisfactorily account for all my possessions. I can always tell where they are, and what I have done with them, so long as I can keep them out of my pockets. If once anything slips into those unknown abysses, I wave it a sad Virgilian farewell. I suppose that the things that I have dropped into my pockets are still there; the same presumption applies to the things that I have dropped into the sea. But I regard the riches stored in both these bottomless chasms with the same reverent ignorance. They tell us that on the last day the sea will give up its dead; and I suppose that on the same occasion long strings of extraordinary things will come running out of my pockets. But I have quite forgotten what any of them are; and there is really nothing (excepting the money) that I shall be at all surprised at finding among them."

— G.K. Chesterton (via fizzyginger)

Closets, also.

(via fizzyginger-deactivated20131014)

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I am Old. I have outgrown my coat.

I was young and more than slightly naive, when a woman bought me this coat. A full length black leather duster, a Ladies’ coat, in fact, which fit me so admirably that I forgave the buttons being on the wrong side. It was the first leather garment I ever owned, and it made me understand the enduring appeal of leather. I wore it constantly, and within a year, it was me-shaped. Or I was it-shaped. Maybe both. It came to be a second skin, effortless, weightless, impossibly comfortable. 

I was wearing it when the woman who gave it to me left me for her car mechanic. I was wearing it when I moved to the city. I wore it on the fire escape and watched the city sleep while I struggled with insomnia and depression. I’ve slept in it, on it, and under it. I was wearing it when I met my wife. A good friend once said it was grafted onto my personality. Autumn, already my favorite time of year, was always the sweeter for becoming cool enough to start wearing it again. I’ve lost count of how many autumns that’s been. 13? 14?

When I became a career craftsman, I gained a lot of muscle mass in my upper body. After a lifetime of being skeletal, suddenly I was man-shaped. Now the coat that I’ve literally climbed mountains in is restrictive, like a poorly fitted suit. It pulls across the shoulders, it digs into my armpits. It doesn’t fit. I pointed this out to my wife, and she smiled, shook her head, clearly amused and said “The end of an era.”

She called my bluff. I am old, or at least older. I have outgrown my coat.

In retrospect, I really outgrew my coat at least a year ago. Probably two. I’ve worn it anyway. Because it’s not just a coat, it’s also a security blanket. Perhaps I’ll cut it up and sew it into something new. Perhaps I’ll grow a spine and let it go entirely. I haven’t decided yet. I don’t like thinking about it. Since this is ostensibly a minimalist blog, I guess I should go on to point out how silly this is: it’s just a coat. It’s a thing you put on your body when it’s cold, so you don’t freeze. If it doesn’t fit then it’s time for a new coat. This is the point where I’m supposed to bring out the well worn chestnut about how the things you own end up owning you. 

There’s only one problem with that: It’s bullshit.

I wish everybody could have a coat they feel this way about, hell, any object they feel this way about. My life was better for having this coat, and not just in practical ways. When we tell ourselves that sentimentality over objects  is somehow foolish, we invalidate huge portions of our own internal life at a stroke. It’s no less distorted than eschewing love, or poetry, or any other unquantifiable parts of human experience. Human beings are sensual animals, our internal life is rich with recalled smells and textures. Becoming attached to a possession has an inherent cost, but so does becoming attached to a person. Sometimes it’s worth it. I hope it happens to me again, and again and again.

Still; I have outgrown my coat. I should donate it to Goodwill and get a new coat.

Maybe tomorrow.

Maybe.

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Public Service Announcement

Minimalism is a means, not an end. There’s nothing inherently better about trying to live down to an arbitrary number of possessions, thinking that’s the key to happiness, than acquiring endless parades of new possessions imagining THAT’s the key to happiness.  You can be just as miserable as an ascetic. Be more mindful of your possessions, choose them more carefully, shed the ones that you keep only out of habit, but counting your possessions and using that number to prove something to yourself or anybody else is utterly meaningless. It’s not a game of Space Invaders, you’re not going for the high (or low) score.

Tags: minimalism
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Concerning Walden.

I see an awful lot of Walden, quoted around in minimalism circles. Or rather, I see a lot of two or three famous short quotations from Walden. Thoreau wrote a great deal about ant hills and beans in that book which never seems to make the quotables list, and I wonder how many people have actually read it all the way through. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some beautiful verse in there, but let’s not kid ourselves. Still, in the interest of filling the obvious demand, here are my tips for living in the style of Walden Pond.

  • Don’t do it for very long (don’t even plan to) For Thoreau, this was a short lived experiment, not intended as a permanent lifestyle. 
  • Have Mommy bring hot meals, and do the laundry, just like Thoreau did. It’s simpler to live with other people taking care of you.
  • Live rent free in the houses of your successful friends.
  • On the weekend, return home to all the modern conveniences you write about not needing during the week.

Now, while one can make a case that there is more than a whiff of hypocrisy in this book, I’m not actually trying to have a go at it, or Thoreau, for that matter. I’m just saying that most people have highly romanticized notions of both man and work which do not correlate particularly well to reality. If what you want is a guide book for self reliant living in the real world, it may be best to keep browsing. I suggest this compromise : if you haven’t read it cover to cover, recently enough to recall the dull bits, maybe don’t assume you understand what’s actually in there. Maybe don’t quote it until you do.

"A century and a half after its publication, Walden has become such a totem of the back-to-nature, preservationist, anti-business, civil-disobedience mindset, and Thoreau so vivid a protester, so perfect a crank and hermit saint, that the book risks being as revered and unread as the Bible."

- John Updike

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"In any case, I wear only two colors, black and gray. These colors are appropriate for any occasion, and they go well together, should I mistakenly put on a pair of gray socks with my black trousers."

Ian Malcolm

Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park.

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Better sketch of the work shirt

Better sketch of the work shirt

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imtotallyglencocco:

Joseph Gordon-Levitt on his definition of a hipster.

xD

Perfect.

(Source: amescathy, via iamunsure)