Sunday, 1 May 2016

30 Day Minimialism Game - Day 01

I've gathered together a few items to purge, but I realised, as soon as I started thinking about what to get rid of, this game is going to be a huge challenge.

Not only will finding [30(30+1)/2] items be difficult, but also deciding how to get rid of them.

Today's item is a bag of used, plastic carrier bags.



I try, as much as possible to use reusable bags when I go shopping, but there are days when the groceries just don't all fit into the bags I have with me and I need to buy a plastic one. These accumulate in the cupboard under the sink. So now, I have this big bag of plastic carriers. What do I do with them? I can't, in good conscience, just throw them away, knowing that they'll go in some landfill and never biodegrade or go to the incinerator and add further to the toxic fumes. Is that really what I have to do? Apparently, yes. If I'm going to play this game properly, it seems I need to suspend my environmentalist conscience for 30 days.

There's also this hat, which I knitted for myself, but is too big.



Do I just throw that away? Do I just put it in the bin? I've decided that I'll make an oasis, in my bedroom. It's a large black bin liner, and it already has 34 items in it. I did count them, This will go to the local charity shop.

The next great challenge is that I'm already a minimalist. I purge regularly, which is why there's a bin liner of 34 things, already waiting to go to the charity shop. So my partner, Sigrid, will most definitely win, but, I have to say, I'm really looking forward to this challenge. I want to see just how minimalist I can be.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Accumulate to Speculate

I saw this in my Instagram feed this morning.

minimalismfilm.com

I don't know, either.

I read somewhere that it's perfectly natural to want. As a species we are evolving, and part of evolution is to strive to achieve something more than that which lies within our immediate grasp. From the beaks of finches to fiscal ambitions, it's all about becoming better, adapting to achieve success.

I understand that Joshua Becker and Ryan Nicodemus and the new minimalists are talking about mindless consumerism, the incessant desire to fill the God-shaped hole with something that bears no resemblance to God, material goods such as the latest iPhone, a new dining set or this season's handbag/haircut/shoes. I understand that The Minimalists, who I admire greatly, have been at the top of the corporate ladder, surrounded by all their material possessions and found the hole even more gaping.

Aside from manic over consumerism, to want isn't always a mindless exercise. There is something to be said for functionality and aesthetics. Having lived in shambolic homes, which I now know robbed me, daily, of a sense of peace and tranquility, I am all for improving one's immediate surroundings with whatever material aquisition is required to achieve a sense of equanimity.

Case in point being this, my beloved Gaggia Classic espresso machine.




It was a gift from my sister and her husband. I love this machine, because it produces a balanced, nicely rounded cup of coffee with this rich and delighful crema.




It also produces, as you can see in both of the above images, a light sprinkling of coffee grinds on the work surface, on the bottom of cups and around the sink and the bin.

This was never a real issue in my previous residence, but here, with the high gloss counter top, it is an issue. I would wipe it up daily, spend an inordinate amout of time wiping, and wiping and wiping some more, the tiny sand like coffee grinds clinging to the microfibres as I rinsed the cloth under running water, as though they had finally found their one, true love, only to abandon the relationship as soon as the cloth touched the shiny, white surface. So, I would need to wipe it up again, fail to rinse it off again, and so on, and so forth.

Time is precious. Cleanliness is important. These two truths are irrefutable,

So, I did want. I wanted a solution to this problem. I wanted something else, something better. And so I bought one of these Senseo coffee machines.




It takes little pouches, like teabags. No mess. The surface is no longer littered with coffee grinds with questionable loyalty.



It's just an inexpensive coffee machine, which produces an inferior cup of coffee compared to the Gaggia, but this particular purchase is contributing to my sense of happiness and wellbeing. I love a clean and tidy space. As with most of us, mess causes me stress. Unlike most of us, perhaps, I like cleaning, but the work needs to be rewarded with results. So, to say that this little purchase has changed my life, isn't an exaggeration. I know it's not exactly God-shaped. I'm not saying that enlightenment will be achieved throught the aquisition of the right appliances, but wanting to improve our immediate surroundings, isn't anything to be dismissed as a purely materialiastic pursuit.

There is a reason we want that dining set, or that handbag or the latest piece of technology. We hope it will simplify our lives. We hope it will free us of something mundane, something which drains us of the most sacred of all possessions, our energy. To honour and respect energy is so sacred that religions and practises, such as Hinduism, yoga and Feng Shui, are devoted, almost entirely to it. Energy is life itself. It is God-shaped.

To want isn't always a bad thing.