Friday, April 26, 2013


While perusing an article in Slate, Is Minimalism Really Sustainable?, I remembered an idea I had years ago.  The premise was this: You are going on a rocket ship to somewhere. You will be provided with whatever you need in the way of food and clothing. You may bring along only ten items and those must fit in the backpack provided.

I thought about this for days. I got me thinking seriously about what was important to me. What would I have brought? Books, of course, but which ones? This was before the advent of eBooks, but even then I was sure that, should I have any time to read in my busy, interesting new life, they’d have a way for me to read. But still I wanted a few of my favorite books in the bag.  I did include a picture or two of my family – at that time I had no one picture of all of us. Oh yes, the little figurine I’d purchased with some of my first babysitting money – I still have it all these years later, and it’s still on my list. Sometimes, to this day, I remember and try to come up with a new set of nine more things. I say ‘try’ because I’m stuck at just two or three.

I’ve always loved historic fiction, especially that set in medieval times. The characters in much of what I read, unless they were royalty and had trunks full of stuff, had few possessions. If disaster struck and they lost everything they lost little – or it seemed that way in the books: the folks just kept on keepin’ on. Many folks had just the clothes on their backs – with maybe an extra tunic or dress for festive days – and what could fit in a purse or scrip.  Folks had little to pass on to their children.

Our parents passed on just a few precious things to us, and we’ll have those things and even more to pass on in turn to our children. Our stuff has accumulated over the years, and the kids are acquiring stuff even as I write, so eventually their stuff will have stuff.

I believe, given the funds, I become a minimalist. While I do have some very nice possessions, I look around and know that I could very easily do without most of them.  Then I think that rather than becoming a minimalist I am just getting lazier: fewer possessions mean less to take care of.

Being a minimalist these days - or at least what I'd like to call mimimalism for myself - requires a healthy bank balance. Had I oodles of cash I could get myself to a ritzy retirement home where they’d clean for me, straighten up my space, do my laundry, and serve lovely meals in the main dining room, leaving me to read to my heart’s content.  Perhaps, not wanting too much scheduled for the mornings, I’d rustle up breakfast for myself when I deign to arise and face the world.  Maybe I’d go for a snack in the afternoon.

There’s a new retirement ‘home’ opening a few miles north of us – I think I’ll check it out.

My very maximialistic desk.

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