I was thinkin’ that if you know a way out,
Then I’d like to go with you.
-Our Lady Peace “Paper Moon”
One of the slow living thinkers who has influenced me the most has been Brooke McAlary who hosts The Slow Home Podcast. Brooke focuses on what she calls “your Why.” The Minimalists ask a broader question – “How would your life be better with less?”
I have put a lot of thought into these questions as I approach the end of my purging and decluttering.
In many ways, where I think I stumbled at the end of my 900 Things project was that I failed to ask myself enough questions through the process. Why was I reducing? How should I stay minimal? What do I want?
I think I always gave a lot of meaning to possessions. As a child I had a ‘library’ of books, read and unread. And I would meticulously catalog and count my comics. Checklists and ‘want lists’ and price guides.
For a lot of my youth I did not feel a lot of joy or connection. As a bullied kid, I had very little sense of control over my world.
Collecting, collating, curating – those actions both calmed my mind and enabled me to carve out a part of the world that was within my control. My want list was something I could conquer. Reorganizing and sorting gave me a sense of accomplishment.
Those habits, that pacifying feeling of control that came with accumulation and curation, stayed with me throughout my life.
But focusing on the minutia has robbed me of challenging myself to find a new path. Finding my Why.
For the past year I have sought to focus on what is truly important – my life with Wifey, creating an environment of calm in our lives, sharing my thoughts, and celebrating the art that I love.
Minimalism has also shown me how to focus on what I love instead of what I merely like. By focusing my time and intention on art and activities that bring me the most joy, I find my downtime more relaxing and fulfilling and less of a chore.
As well as those values, I found minimalism has allowed me to make great strides in breaking the cycle of debt. Aside from my mortgage, I currently have less personal debt than I have had since 1998, my second year of student loans (and the associated student loan debt).
Discontent in my life is often tied to stress, a lack of control, or a feeling of obligation. By focusing on my Why, I have been able to reduce these areas and thus the discontent.
Deciding to leave the We Talk Comics podcast was very much about finding my own voice and using it to promote my own values.
I have learned a great deal about myself through the process of writing this blog and posting videos to YouTube. As much as I enjoyed collaborating, I take a lot of pride in putting out an unvarnished version of me. Sink or swim, it is my voice that people will judge.
As I continue to define my Why, I look toward the person I want to become. A calmer, more contented person. Someone who knows what is important and able to quickly discard the trivial.
I want to learn to be content within myself.
Is there a greater goal than to truly be yourself?