Friday, January 29, 2010

The Minimal Life

Ever since early 2004 I’ve been living a kind of minimal life. Less is more has been my maxim. Few books on the bookshelf. As a matter of fact, I’d rather not have a bookshelf or any other furniture at all but sometimes necessity outweighs what we’d like.

Of course, it wasn’t always like this. Before 2004, I was a hoarder. I loved to buy stuff. I had been collecting records since the age of 13. Books strained the shelves on which they were placed. I knew the location of every thrift store on the Peninsula and in San Francisco, and could tell you which had the best clothes, which the best records, which the best ironic art. It’s sad to say, but acquiring things was one of the hallmarks of my existence.

I was aware that this might not be the best of compulsions (credit card debt was something else I seemed to be accumulating) and so it was with little regret that I began jettisoning my stuff in 2004 in anticipation of moving to Japan. I sold my record collection and turntables. I sold all my CDs (not before ripping them of course—been completely digital for six years now). And I’ve kept the thrift store trips to a minimum, although lately my collection of ironic animal T-shirts is growing again. Shipping overseas can be expensive, so I’ve tried to keep it to two U-haul boxes.

For the most part I’ve managed to keep my possessions to within these narrow parameters for the last six years. And while I don’t miss my old hoarder lifestyle—compulsively downloading music and movies on the Internet has sated this somewhat—I do grow tired of the waiting. There is no overriding philosophy for living minimally, you see. It is in anticipation of once again moving to Japan, and once again having to deal with shipping expenses. Given the choice, I would certainly have more stuff. But it’s more than that. The absence of stuff has become, for me, symbolic of being in stasis. I have been in a holding pattern over my destination, Japan, for six years and I’m so ready to land it’s not even funny.

After wandering with my two U-haul boxes for six years I relish the opportunity to set them down, unpack, and put my meager possessions on a shelf. Until it’s time to move again.

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