Minimalism: Everything I Own in One Bag and Why
The Seeds Disposal
Around the back end of 2016, I began my journey as a Minimalist.
My initial reason was merely based on space. I dreaded packing up all of my college belongings after a semester, just to carry it all home for a few months. In fact, I recall struggling to load up my friend’s car with all my stuff to the degree that we considered strapping things to the roof!
I had enough. That up and coming fall I cut my wardrobe in half, and when I took account of what was left, I realized that what remained was all my favorite clothes. Finally, I could say I loved all my clothes. The process opened me up to loving what I own rather than tolerating possessions, so much so that I extended the process the other miscellaneous things I considered mine.
I became addicted. The more I threw away, the more comfort I accumulated. It was like I had been hiding little bits of joy in all of my belonging and with each discard, I withdrew some value from the material bank and reinvested my dividends in what I still considered mine.
Though after rounds of discarding, I came to standstill. I really appreciated everything I owned.
But what was appreciation anyway? Did the stuff bring me joy in and of itself? Why did I need to crave after MY stockpile above someone else’s? Surely others wouldn’t appreciate my items as I did. I began to question if I was allocating the idea of appreciation appropriately in the first place.
I came up with an analogy. When I thought about it, appreciation was a fishbowl full of all the love, time, and attention I put towards the selection of items I own. Floating around the bowl was all my items. But the thing about a bowl is that its content has a finite limit. Would I risk spilling my precious appreciation juice? No! To me, that meant discarding items to create the optimal appreciation to item ratio.
I was drawn to this line of thinking from a similar approach I was using in my mental life at the time to discard useless ideas—pragmatism.
The Maxim of Pragmatism
“Consider the practical effects of the objects of your conception. Then, your conception of those effects is the whole of your conception of the object.” -Charles Sanders Peirce, the father of pragmatism
In other words, if you have a distinct meaning that endows a fruitful type of value onto something, it’s that meaning, that retains significance in the idea, object, etc. In pragmatism, beliefs, theories, and even material belongings are held up to a specific standard—value first.
A personal consideration of pragmatic value become the answer. In my bowl analogy, the ratio of appreciation to items could be thought about as a function of the initial value I held for each of the two categories. Meaning how much the bowl could hold before filling or how heavy the items were changed depending on the initial pragmatic value. And based on how I had felt getting rid of things, it was clearly appreciation that I valued more, not the items—loved that appreciation juice!
The model worked so well that I applied it to other realms of being. My conception of Items expanded to include items of thought such as ideas, mantras, or theories. I discovered that personally, a value was beyond that of materials and that material were in fact, a distraction. A distraction in that the items took my finite appreciation and distributed in ways that caused me to attend less to my new, more expansive model of items.
Stated above are the guiding ideas that have promoted me own less. Since applying the models I have cultivated a lot of value and thrown away a lot of stuff. At this point, I can claim to be sufficiently not limited to any location as a majority—if not all—items that I own fit inside my backpack. Though such freedom has counter-intuitively made me care less about the items themselves, and more about respectful owning in a manner that respects the finite nature of appreciation.
I’ve told you about the journey this far so I’d like to share a comprehensive list of everything I own. As of February 4th, 2019.
Red Osprey Farpoint 40 Backpack
Hemp short sleeve t-shirt
Nautica puffer jacket
Hershey 10k shirt long sleeve
Old Navy fleece vest
White button-down shirt
Black ExOfficio underwear
Grey ExOfficio underwear
Pair of Darn Tough Socks
Pair of Grey Hiking socks
Pair of Dark Blue Dress Socks
Blue and Yellow High School XC shorts
Pikes Peak 14,110 FT CO Hat
TOMS Black Heritage Canvas Alpargatas
Asics Running Shoes
Black and brown transposable Belt
Under Armour Tights
Blue Nike compression shorts
Black Speedo Thong Flip Flops
Columbia Silver Ridge Pants
Brown Dress shoes
Cold Weather Face Mask
Alpha Keeper Money Belt
PackTowl Personal Microfiber Towel
Joy Walker Waterproof Backpack Rain Cover
Zomake Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack
OontZ Angle Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
iPhone 5 and Phone Charger
Vumos Sleeping Bag Liner
Axe toiletry bag
Tigers eye bracelet
Travel Tooth Brush
Passport and other required documentation
Ralph Lauren Cologne
College Class Ring
USB Flash Drive
Surface Tablet with wireless mouse and charger
Folder with legal documents
Master Lock TSA Accepted Luggage Blue Lock
Universal Wall Plug Travel Adaptor
Teavana Perfectea Maker
Disposables: Thing that I own that I use and refill include: razors, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, chapstick, essential oils, caffeine pills, l-theanine, matcha, and tea.
A Note on Books
I have chosen not to list all of the books that I own. The list is vast and growing, and as of now, books do not apply to the same rigorous elimination process I have been undergoing. That’s because the value of a book extends beyond my ownership, and the presence of a book cultivates an environment focused on lifelong learning. As a signal of what can be potentially known as I continue to grow, books offer an opportunity to expand my own consciousness, as well as the people that surround me.
If I am to attend to others and myself in a manner that cultivates progress, the clutter of an environment in no way provides any significantly use. To produce significant results, you need to treat your time as the finite resource that it truly is. When you limit what you spend your time on, growth becomes possible in the remainder.
Having less in your life means you have more time, attention, and focus towards the things that matter.
In a mess of sensory stimuli, your attention is stolen. When the mind wanders it uses whatever is available to it to perpetuate the train of thought. Distraction after distraction, the person is unconsciously agreeing—saying yes—to more, which ultimately lead to less.
By removing the things that stole my time and attention, I am now able to cultivate only my priorities. This is why I chose to own less.
It’s easy to believe that doing more will lead to better results. But go ahead and try doing less—you’ll be happily surprised.