I was reading a Facebook page this morning asking if I was willing to contribute my story on a minimalist lifestyle. I’m interested because I kind of do have a minimal lifestyle – I live in my camper and don’t have a lot of things for obvious reasons. As the day wore on, however, I began to think more and more along the lines of ‘stuff,’ what we have, why we have it, what’s going to happen to it, why do we need it, etc. You get the picture. So what happened? Where did it all go? What were some of or the contributing factors to journeying on this less traveled road?
“Minimalism is Simple” is one of my better liked pages. It’s all about making the most from little and how to go about defining each item as whether it is truly needed or just gathering dust. First, though, we need to figure out what makes us even think of taking such a drastic measure as scaling down from all this stuff we think we need to have only what we really need.
Oh! Oh! Oh! I know, I know!
I like stability, routine, things always the same. Yet there is this adventurous bone in my body that just wants to live in different places, meet new people, do new things. All with stability, routine and things staying the same. Not really, but just enough change thrown in to keep life interesting.
The problem was each move became a chore instead of an adventure. Each time there was more stuff. Lots of things that were part of some adventure or hike or camping trip or some off the wall shopping trip that was completely out of the ordinary. Books – tons of books. Clothes – thrift store sales that incorporated my personal soul onto the outside. Camping, hiking, backpacking supplies. Frivolous stuff in the home that showed friends my inner style.
As time went on, I got tired of hauling all that stuff around. Kiddo was grown and I had so much stuff from his early years, it was ridiculous. But I had hauled it around with me. Time and use took care of a lot of stuff. For one, we camped all the time until moving back to the Eastern Shore. The tent? It finally bit the dust. It was a great tent, lasted a long time but it died. It was free so there are no complaints. Most of the other equipment was worn out also and not good for anything other than the trash.
It was the same with all the rest of those supplies. My first serious pair of hiking boots were steel-toed Georgia boots I purchased in 1995. I purchased the second pair of Georgia steel-toes in 2010. Quality. The first pair died with the same shoelaces that was on them when I purchased them. They lasted that long. That first pair of boots has walked many miles, in many places. I sure hated to get rid of them but……they had to be retired.
I don’t usually buy new, except hiking boots and such. Almost everything is from the thrift store, yard sales or freebies. There are good deals to be had. So when it came time to unload my house, I just called the Salvation Army to come pick it up. Let it go, just like that. It was good and decent stuff and still good and decent stuff for somebody else that may need it. I didn’t so it was easy to let it go. I did keep about six boxes of stuff but several of those were things that belonged to kiddo when he was younger.
One day, I took all of those boxes out and went through them. What was in there that was needed to survive? What was needed to make life better? What was in there that I couldn’t live without? Nothing. That was it. Just stuff. Kiddo can have the responsibility of deciding what he wants to do with his things, maybe keep them for his kids, but it’s not anything that we truly need to live each day. Sentimental. Sometimes that is the hard stuff to get rid of.
Now I live in my Airstream – about 168 square feet of living space. It doesn’t have much room for a lot of extra stuff so you have to think and plan accordingly to be able to house everything without cluttering the living space. Which brings us to how stuff works now.
I used to be and still am the thrift store queen. But when I purchase now, I need to think things through. What will this be used for? Is it useful for more than one thing? Is it a quality product? Will it last? Therein lies the answers. Make sure one thing can be useful in a multitude of ways. If you want it to last, purchase a quality product and don’t skimp on the price. In the long run, you will get more than your money’s worth over time (refer back to the hiking boots). You don’t need much, you just need to make sure what you do have is useful and has a benefit or two.
I’ve lived in the Airstream about six months now. Occasionally I do a walkabout to see if there’s anything hanging around in here I’m not using or isn’t useful any longer, or broken and/or needs repairing. If so, in a box it goes to either be delivered to the Salvation Army, repaired or discarded.
It’s really not that hard to get rid of stuff if you can get past all the sentimental value that we all seem to harbor inside for familiar things. The reality is sentiments don’t really help us through life. People do. So let’s get rid of some stuff so we can enjoy our people.