Simplicity

Tybee beach, 2011. Shot with cardboard pinhole camera on 35mm film. 

I wanted to take a little break from travel specific topics and muse today on the “why” behind both my minimalist travel methods and my light approach to life as a whole.

When I’m out seeing the world, why do I prefer to take so little stuff?  And when I’m at home in between journeys, why do I inhabit a relatively small home with a fraction of the contents of the typical American household?  I could certainly buy a house several times larger than the one I have and fill it to the brim with all kinds of shiny toys using loans and various credit cards.  But I don’t.

Why?

To keep life simple.  To maintain a level of tranquility that, for me, cannot exist when life gets too complicated and hectic.  Traveling with a ton of stuff to keep track of, living in a gigantic house with an overabundance of contents and even more upkeep needs, working longer hours for more valuable years of life during my youth to pay for all this extraneous stuff; that doesn’t bring peace of mind.  That brings stress.

And for what?  To impress a bunch of strangers, casual acquaintances, and other people who I really don’t give two shits about?  It sure isn’t for my own happiness.

To me, the idea of minimalism and simple living is a mindset.  It’s not the stereotypical image of a barren, sterile house with glass walls, no furniture, and a whole bunch of white paint.  My house looks nothing like that; it actually has quite a bit of character to it.  It’s different for everyone, but my interpretation of minimalism is living life while taking only what you need to live and focusing your remaining energy on the few select things that make you truly happy.  The things that make you happy.  Not the neighbors, not your coworkers, not the Joneses, not the people you see at church on Sunday mornings if you go to church, and not what TV advertisements tell you you need.  The things that bring you contentment.  Everything else is extraneous fluff and can easily be eliminated.

When Mrs. Lite Adventurer and I are hanging out somewhere in Asia for a few weeks, I don’t worry about my luggage since I pack so little to begin with, and I also do not worry about the house.  To be perfectly frank, the only thing at home I worry even a little bit about is our cat, Ginger, and I know she’s in excellent hands with our pet sitter.

Ginger the cat.  She’s blown away.

Other than our cute, furry, quadruped beast, there’s nothing in that house that would be devastating to lose.

Consider that for a moment:  how freeing it is to not be emotionally attached to a truckload of material things.

The entire house could burn down while we’re away, and as long as the cat was safe, it wouldn’t be a disaster.  Inconvenient, yes.  A hassle for sure, but not a disaster.  Why?  Because all of it is just stuff that can be replaced.  Stuff that has no inherent value to it, other than its usefulness at the time it’s being used.

For me, a simple life is a happy life.  Easy, uncluttered, and free.  If you find yourself up to your neck with excess stuff and too many commitments and you’re stressed out all the time, consider taking inventory of that which is truly important and cutting out all the rest.  Because when you really think about it, most of what “normal” people do in an average day is a bunch of nonsense.

We all have a limited amount of time here; I choose to waste as little of it as possible.

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