Because Less Is More

I’ve used this example before: When I was much younger and was working to build a record collection that filled a single milk crate, I labored over every purchasing decision. Money was limited and these items were a luxury. Nothing could be thrown into the bag on a whim. It had to be the stuff I loved and wanted the most.

When I’d reached a point later in life where spending money was less an issue, or didn’t mean putting off an electric bill until the next check, entire bookcases started to fill with items bought without much thought. It was no big deal. Not so good? No harm no foul. There might be one or two cuts that I return to, or maybe not. It occurred to me after a couple decades that frivolous spending had devalued much of what I cherished on those shelves by crowding it with throwaways.

So you see where I’m going with this.

MINIMALISM A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT THE IMPORTANT THINGS didn’t really introduce me to a new idea so much as it carried it beyond the divestiture of material goods and consuming. It opened up the idea that the very idea is to divorce oneself from the activity of consuming to make time for other passions. It’s not just about uncluttering one’s space. It’s about adding value to time itself and uncluttering the head. I’d never really thought about minimalism in that context before, hence I really only started getting caught up in replacing what I’d removed with new objects.

It has occurred to me that most of the items I own, like clothing for example, are totems that represent a very time-consuming process of presenting myself in a very specific fashion (pun intended) to the people in my life. This is how I am casting my character today. Then since my roles are inconsistent and varied depending on mood there needs to be a costume to suit (haw haw pun) the situation. That adds up to a lot of clutter, both in a physical and an emotional and spiritual sense. The worst part about it is that I have never felt I had as much as I needed, and I got more pleasure from the process of procuration then I did from owning. The god-sized hole that they talk about in 12-steps programs could never be filled.

This casts the very idea of recovery in an entirely new light. The documentary here does, in fact, sound very familiar. A man told me once, “my drug of choice is more.”

Yup.

More of everything, no matter what it is. If you have the means, then the only problem with more is that it doesn’t do what you’d like it to do.

The lockdown these last few months has left me with a lot of time to sit around looking at my pile of stuff. Having done a massive purge nearly five years ago I thought I’d gotten where I needed to be. Spend nearly three months doing fuck all but looking at your shit though, much of which you haven’t even touched in several years, and the shit becomes suffocating. I cant justify even half the amount of clothes I own. No justification for the number of books I will definitely never read again. I know that because they didn’t tell me anything useful the first time around and should I ever decide to circle back I can do it online and it won’t collect dust.

And it’s true what they say, you can’t take it all with you.

Long story short, there are piles of shit by the door ready to head for the heap. I need space. I need to feel passion for the things that remain and if there is no passion there has to be at least utility. There is joy in utility and that can’t be denied.

I’m going to recommend watching this doc though just to see if it resonates with you. Maybe it won’t. Maybe you have a greater capacity to enjoy more belongings. I don’t have it so I’m going to have to try something new.

Cheers (and it’s on Netflix, by the way).

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