On August 4, 2012, I was moved to purchase the book Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus.
Growing up, I went through a long period of rejecting consumerism. Most of my teenage years were spent wearing thrift store men’s clothes and little to no makeup. The song “Consumer” by the band Shelter and the punk band Avail’s mantra of “Poor Ugly Happy” spoke to my soul. I did not need things.
After college, like most of us, I became focused on being able to support myself. I was intoxicated by the idea of owning my own house, thinking about the artistic things I would do to make it my own. Although I never got too carried away with fancy cars, a giant house, or $400 handbags, in many ways, I became a part of mainstream consumer society.
Fast forward nearly 20 years. I have a wonderful life. I live in a modest house with all the “necessary” comforts. For the past six years, I have had a job I adore at a not-for-profit organization, where I get the amazing gift of making a difference in the lives of people in my community. In fact, I was recently named Young Professional of the Year in a major award.
However, I never did most of those artistic things with my property. The reasons are probably many, but mostly rooted in the fact that after working 40+ hours a week, I had little to no time, creativity, or energy remaining. I got wrapped up in friends, errands, television, and just trying to keep up.
After reading Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life, I began to tune back in to my roots and realize that I really had life more figured out at age 16 than I might have realized. I began the slow process of ridding myself of non-essential “things” and have continued toward that goal.
The “Tiny House Movement” caught my eye, and for a while, I thought this concept fit my desire to focus on the essential. But then I realized that the notion of portability was what really spoke to me. Aside from giving back to my community and relationships with the people in my life, traveling has been what has fed my soul the most.
After recently celebrating my 40th birthday, I’m excited to plan something entirely new with my life, to reject the prescribed role we all play. I want to wake up and see mountains, or desert, or a canyon; to fill my lungs with fresh, quiet air; to truly see how little we need to content our souls; and to make new connections and find ways to continue to give back to the world around me and the people with whom I share it.