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minimalism in a nerdy world

Minimizing your autobiography of stuff

The battle’s done and we kind of won
So we sound our victory cheer
Where do we go from here?

-Buffy The Vampire Slayer – Once More With Feeling

The hardest part of any purge is taking stock of who you are at this moment as opposed to who you were or who you thought you’d be.

I tried indie film and there’s a little pile of that stuff here. I went to university for comparative religion and there’s a few remnants of that time. And when I stopped working in theatre, I had to deal with a box of plays and reference material.

I have been thinking a lot about who I want to be for the next part of my life. This excising of my past is about deciding what moves forward and what is left behind.

Baby pictures.

The pieces seem part of who I am, fragments of where I’ve been.


When I did my 900 Things project in 2012, I had the idea to keep a “sample” thing from different times in my life. One was Power Pack #1

It was the first comic I collected. May 1984, I had $2.00 left of birthday money (in those days Canada had a $2 bill). That bought me GI Joe #14 and Power Pack #1. Double sized collectors’ item first issue! 11-year old me was sure to retire on this investment.

Even if the issue had skyrocketed in value, my copy was read so many times that it would be a sorry sale today. Today it has a resale value somewhere south of a nickle.

So why is it still here? Because it said something about where I came from.

It is a representative of thousands of comics that I no longer own.

What stayed from the other eras of my life?

  • My misspent 20s – I was obsessed with conspiracy theories (I’m now reformed. Having adopted Occam’s Razor as a philosophy, I’ve realized how utterly absurd those theories are). Instead of a couple of dozen JFK conspiracy books, I kept the most aggressively anti-conspiracy book ever written – Vincent Bugliosi’s massive tome Reclaiming History. (It was minimized on day 1 this time).
  • Film days – our short films on 8mm are in storage. I also kept the miniature of myself that was made for a special effect shot. With a plan to put it on display (which still has not happened another five years gone).
  • University days – The Bible that was my reference copy for all those years. I am not a Christian myself, but it’s a nice leather-bound indexed copy I picked up along the way. (I have no memory of when it went, but it is long gone).
  • Theatre – After 9 years in theatre you’d think the mementos would be massive, but they weren’t. Instead of anything as space consuming as programs I keep ticket stubs. I painted a little brown box to resemble Dexter Morgan’s trophy case of slides and it will hold my collection for years to come. (The box went, as did most of the tickets. I kept my favorites in a photo album)

These years later, I reflect that these mementos retained little value to me. Five years ago, I thought I needed those things to remind me of who I was. But it turned out that wasn’t true at all

Who am I going to be in another five year’s time?

 

Ω An earlier version of this post appeared at www.wetalkpodcasts.com

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2 Comments

  1. Minimalism (the material version) comes in stages. In the initial purge we feel we have divested aggressively. Later we look at things we wouldn’t part with in the first purge and send them on without hesitation. Finally, hopefully, we arrive at a point that honors the words of William Morris: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Some 7 years or so later, there are still a few remnants.

    • Keith Callbeck

      Very true. It is interesting to me what has stayed in the second purge that also stayed in the first. So many things that entered in between were easily done with.
      I am working at it slowly. The easy and dramatic purge set intention, now it’s about being careful when comes in and working my plans.

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