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Thread: Tough question about going "extreme" with minimalism/simple living

  1. #1
    Senior Member Ultralight's Avatar
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    Tough question about going "extreme" with minimalism/simple living

    Okay, considering how much I have posted to these forums since I joined (just days ago!) it might seem unbelievable that I would hesitate to ask you all anything on here.

    But I have hesitated to ask about one issue: "Extreme minimalism."

    I have this experimental urge to try to take simple living/minimalism to the "extreme."

    Now the work-spend-work-spend and clutterbug folks I know already think I am an extreme minimalist because I own less than 200 things, I don't have a cell phone, and I have not been in a mall in an eternity. haha

    But lately I have got this "now or never" feeling about taking minimalism to the edge -- like down to the holy grail of 100 possessions, getting rid of my "real bed" for a tri-fold mattress, cutting my already small wardrobe even more, selling or donating some bulkier items (like my canoe), and really moving toward a car-free (or very car-lite lifestyle).

    Has anyone else taken their simple living to the edge? Gone "extreme" with minimalism? If you have -- or if you haven't -- I'd like to know what you think. I am thick-skinned so you can be candid with me.

    Thanks!

    -Jake

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    Moderator Float On's Avatar
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    I think a person even an extreme minimalist should allow a few items for things they really enjoy. What would happen to your quality of life if you gave up the canoe and fishing gear? If I had to pick some things I would pick my kayak over some of my furniture, pottery and painting collection, even most of my husband's blown glass work, my piano, my gardens, the 2 remaining pets, the chickens, and most of my clothes/shoes/jewelry. There has to be something left that makes me me.

    Jake doesn't want to sit in a corner rocking does he?
    Float On: My "Happy Place" is on my little kayak in the coves of Table Rock Lake.

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    Senior Member Ultralight's Avatar
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    Float On:

    Don't get me wrong! haha. I would not get rid of my fishing pole. But I'd fish from the bank or use my waders. I still catch plenty from the shore. haha

    But I check out books from the library because I like to read. I listen to music on YouTube. The other stuff I like to do doesn't require much either -- hanging out with friends, walking my dog at the park, etc. Obviously I have to remain vigilante about the hobby monster though. haha

  4. #4
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Have you heard of:

    Peter Lawrence? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hw4E8nXcrTk

    Ken Ilgunas? http://www.kenilgunas.com/p/the-book...on-wheels.html

    These guys seem right up your alley. I have Walden on Wheels and The Happy Minimalist.

    However, I'm a minimalist wannabe or aspirant. By NO MEANS am I a living out a minimalist life. With 4 kids' worth of cr*p in my garage and a husband who thinks he needs 30 old tattered shirts for the one time a year he works under the car, not to mention all my sentimental gifts and photos.. forget it.

    I posted here several times that my mother was an extreme minimalist, not by choice, but by misfortune (illness and a fire). But I think of her often and her one box of belongings she had when she died.

    I always think of what Jesus said: See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

    What do we REALLY need? Why are we so much needier than birds or deer? Peace Pilgrim had her tunic, her sneakers, a comb, toothbrush, stamps, pencil and notepaper. THAT WAS IT! And she had it all.

    I appreciate your post--you just have to pursue minimalism according to what's best for your own personal needs. There's no right or wrong. However, I would just be wise about it and discriminating. (i.e., is this a backlash against your parents' hoarding? Is it means to an end vs. an end in itself? How will it further you as a human being?)
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

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    I get how you would want to do this and probably can if you put your mind to it. But the part of minimalism I don't get is giving away possessions you need (your bed) and then spending money on a foldable mattress. Isn't it simpler and more pure to keep the few things you actually want/need, than going out and buying the minimalist version?

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    It depends on whether a person is a traveler. My son lived for a few years without a car. He took everything he owned with him in one backpack and one small piece of luggage - with the exception of one plastic tote of sentimental items that he stored at his brothers house. He traveled around north and Central America for those couple of years.

    A mattress would have been impossible. A bed roll works in that life.

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    gotcha

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    I'm kind of with fresh start.

    What is your goal here? Mobility? Smaller living space? Lighter footprint?

    Are the possessions you currently have costing more in stress/storage/upkeep than they are worth for what they add to your life? I'm a recovering hoarder, so I have to ask myself the opposite question constantly.

    But I think that minimalism can be a problem taken to the extreme for the wrong reasons. Like anorexia. An overweight person might need to limit food intake or exercise for health, but an anorexic limits food intake or exercises to the point where it damages quality of life. I think minimalism can be taken to that point also.

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    Senior Member Kestra's Avatar
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    We have a few members, past and present who live along those lines. I think you'll find this is a very inclusive and open-minded group of people. Nothing is too extreme for us.

    One member, Fawn (if I recall correctly) who hasn't been on the forums for a while, who wrote that book I recommended, would do an annual list of her 100 items. However I don't think she was including household items that she shared with her kids. Myself, I count everything that I'd still have if I didn't live with roommates, so my list includes quite a lot of kitchen stuff. I haven't finished it, but I think I'll be around 400 items. Not that there's one right way to do an item count. And it's only those of us who like that kind of thing who would even bother.

    I agree with others about not getting rid of too much stuff, but I think you have a good handle on what improves your life and what does not.

    As far as the car, of course I'm all for car-free, as long as you have alternative options for occasional use. You don't want to feel completely trapped because you sell your car. And the canoe and the car kind of go together, as it's hard to transport the one without the other. I think it'd be kind of sad if you gave up your canoe, but you could always get another one in the future. Would you be able to keep the canoe (and still use it sometimes) without owning the car? For the car it's about money (and hassle), but for the canoe it's portability vs. life enjoyment.

    For other extreme stuff, have you heard of Jacob from Early Retirement Extreme? He's one of the best known people for reducing his expenses significantly while still having a pretty normal life. It definitely helps to have a partner who is completely onboard, as he did for a good part of his journey, I believe.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Ultralight's Avatar
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    catherine:

    Wow! So many good points and questions. Thank you. I am familiar with Peter Lawrence. Learning about his lifestyle, I think, contributed to my initial curiosity about extreme minimalism. I read Walden On Wheels last winter! It was so good! "Go for it!"

    I had no idea that quote was in the bible. I have been meaning to read that cover-to-cover, though I am not a religious person at all.

    I will openly say that I consciously and purposefully live simply in part because my parents are compulsive hoarders (and could be on one of those shows!). But it is more about living the like I want, on my terms, when possible.

    The minimalism as means or minimalism as an end is probably the ultimate question. I think that going extreme might give me the time and grit to do the things I really want -- like go fishing (obviously from shore or in waders if I sell my canoe), but also to relax and to cultivate better relationships with friends. My dog is middle aged now -- my hobbies have often taken me away from him. So I'd like to spend more time with the pup. I'd really like to meditate daily, so freeing up time and grit through living even simpler might help facilitate that.

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