Pop Culture Clutter vs. Memorable Experiences
So I read about this thing called minimalism...
Minimalism or simple living appealed to me.
Less stuff. Less clutter. Less cleaning. Sounded pretty good.
And the more I read about minimalism, the more I realized that simple living did not translate to cheap living. You could be a minimalist with quality stuff; you just didn't buy the stuff in six different colors to line up on shelves to collect dust. You buy what you will use.
So the question became...
Could I really become a minimalist?
Could I do it? Could I purge my apartment of furniture, clothes, kitchenware, books, camping gear, electronics, decor, DVDs, and all the things I had collected over the years with the intent of paring down to the essentials? The stuff I would actually use?
Turns out that I could. Granted, I'm not a "pure" minimalist in the sense that I use everything I own within a day or even a week. However, the majority of what I do own does get used on a regular basis. And I wish I had taken pictures of how much I purged! This process was easier than I thought it would be.
Anybody who knows me knows that I love to perseverate. Reading about minimalism and liking the idea is much different than adopting the life style. As I thought about becoming a minimalist, I really struggled with whether or not minimalism was a realistic goal for me. Then I reflected on two key changes I had already made. Changes that made the difference in my outlook.
I gave away my TV in 2006.
Sure, I was tired of commercials. But I got truly concerned about my sanity when I was distraught at the idea of having to delete older shows on my TiVo. Older shows. Shows I had already watched, but I might want to see again. And to be perfectly clear, I did not have my TiVo set on the highest recording quality. I was squeezing every megabyte of space I could out of that puppy!
I was watching three to fours hours of TV every week night with many more hours on the weekend. And for a few years there, one of the most frequent social activities I had with friends was going to the movies! Scary!
I still follow some TV shows. I have a couple I watch on Hulu. Some I buy season passes for on iTunes. I love my public library for DVDs. And when I moved in with My Person he had Amazon Prime and Apple TV.
I wasn't thrilled at the idea of having a television again, but we don't have a cable TV package. Sure, I have many more ways to watch programming, but the amount of time I spend watching anything is considerably less. My guess is that I spend around 10-12 hours a week watching movies and/or TV shows. And the best part is that the vast majority of my viewing experiences are commercial-free!
There is a certain freedom in the shrinking of pop culture clutter.
I had to ask friends who the Kardashians were. I don't think that's a bad thing!
I started taking solo vacations in 2012.
Trying to coordinate travel plans with friends became increasingly difficult as our lives became increasingly more complicated. You know, because we're old...er.
So in 2012 I attended the Phoenix Comicon by myself. And it was glorious! I could get up when I wanted. I stood in a long line for coffee at the Convention Center Starbucks because I wanted my mocha! I sat in on the panels I wanted to hear. I found a great Mexican restaurant where I could watch cosplayers walk by. I consulted no one.
Basically, being on a solo vacation is a lot like living alone, except for the added benefits of having wait staff bring you food and wine, and room staff make the bed. And there's no working.
Since then, I've taken a few other solo vacations, usually for long weekends because these adventures do cost a bit more since I'm paying for everything solo. And something that I realized about these vacations is that not once have I taken any pictures. Ever.
I've shared stories. I've bought a few little gifts. I've even purchased a card or magnet or t-shirt. But mostly, I've remembered. And really, that's all I need. These experiences live in my head.
Last year at the Phoenix Comicon, there was a group of cosplayers dressed as Maleficent, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather from Disney's Sleeping Beauty. Since Sleeping Beauty was the most requested bedtime story my younger sister would ask me to read to her, I have fond memories of those characters. And these women cosplayers did it up!
People flocked around them for pictures. If I had tried to get into that crowd for a shot, I think I would have gotten the typical whale watching photo. The one where you see a splash and very little whale. Instead, I decided to just enjoy watching a few kids get their picture taken with these fairy godmothers and appreciate their intricate costumes and make up. The evil Maleficent announced that they had to move before they blocked con traffic. I swear I saw some animator's ink drip from their dresses as they whirled away!
Really, I was already on the minimalist path...
In two big ways, I was living some of the basic ideals behind minimalism. I had reduced some clutter and increased valued experiences. I merely had all this excess stuff piling up in my apartment. And I realized that getting rid of those things wouldn't be terribly painful at all.