A Year of More with Less
This is the photo that took my breath away as I was reading my daily newspaper a few days before Christmas. It shows a FedEx warehouse filled with packages that still needed to get where they had to go in time for the holiday. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. How about one: Gross.
My visceral reaction to this photo had me thinking about stuff. Too much stuff to be specific. And how my life (your life?) is cluttered with things to use and wear and flaunt, but mostly to store, fund, maintain and complain about.
How fortunate am I?
During my Christmas staycation, I treated myself to one movie a day. After seeing this photo I found myself questioning how I could downsize my Big Life which led me to that day’s film selection: Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things.
Here’s what I learned from watching:
• Achieving the American Dream has come to mean acquiring material things.
• It is possible to live in a very tiny one room home and love it.
• We spend way too much of our valuable time “on the hunt” for things.
• Giving away things is actually quite liberating.
• Constantly improving technology makes us constantly dissatisfied...bring on the next new thing!
• There is a growing movement known as Project 333, a minimalist fashion challenge that asks you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months (includes clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear and shoes!).
• You won’t find happiness by consuming more.
• It’s not about getting rid of your stuff; it’s about taking control of your life.
• Love people. Use things.
But most of all I learned:
• You will never see the word minimalist in my obituary.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t aspire to live more simply.
The fact that a picture of excess affected me so means that I am aware there’s a problem and supposedly that is where this quest for having more with less begins.
When I was telling friends (who endured manic international shopping trips with me) about Project 333, one responded, “You first...!”
I think I’ll back burner the fashion challenge for a while but I am already planning how to maximize my New Year by minimizing my surroundings (a more spare work space), commitments (“no” is an answer), and possessions (how many black sweaters can one own?).
At a minimum, this should leave me more time and focus for family, friends, business colleagues, strangers, experiences and the lost art of thinking about stuff, not just acquiring it.