By definition, “neo-minimalists” don’t have an overabundance of things in their lives. But one thing they tend to have more and more of these days is visibility. Recently, The New York Times talked to some people participating in the 100 Thing Challenge about how it has affected their lives; The BBC looked into the “Cult of Less;” and here on Boing Boing, Mark has been getting down to the nitty-gritty of what the “lifestyle hack” involves. The common thread here is a growing number of people are realizing that our mountains of physical stuff are actually cluttering up more than just our houses. All of this is exciting to me, because it’s something in which I have a growing personal interest: I have been taking steps to get rid of the mountains of stuff I now realize I have no reason to hang on to. In fact, I’m not just doing it myself—I’m trying to help start a revolution.
This is a big change for me. I’ve spent most of my life as collector: comics, records, t-shirts, old Japanese robot & kaiju toys, creepy garage sale junk, art—the whole list won’t fit here, let alone in my storage space. But after many years living in the same place, I moved in 2006. In the process of preparing for that move, for the first time in as long as I can recall I had to physically touch everything I owned. I found myself wondering why I was still holding on to so much junk.
Since then, I’ve been on a mission to un-clutter my life and get rid of as much crap as I can. The process has been slow going, filled with reflection on individual objects and their value to me. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about who I am and what I want out of this life.
I decided to value the gathering of experiences over the acquiring of stuff, and to get rid of stuff which would enable the gathering of more experiences. I’d have more cash from the sale of my stuff, and less stuff to worry about, should I want to move or travel for a while. Stuff gets old and breaks and takes up room in your house, experiences stick with you for life and make you a better person. The more I thought about this, the more obsessed I became. The more I traveled, the more I realized how much less stuff I actually need to be happy, and how much happier I was with less stuff. I knew I had physical clutter, I didn’t realize how much mental clutter came with it. The more I travel the less I pack, and the more I realize that increasing what I own is just increasing cruft— and, that I should get rid of it.
I’ve noticed that the more I travel, the less I want to take with me. I’ve also noticed that the older I’ve get, the less stuff I truly want. Or need for that matter.