January 9, 2012

My Minimalism Manifesto

Claudia and I spent the entire Thanksgiving on an airplane, going from San Francisco to New York. We avoided the entire holiday.

(I don't even know how to carve one of these things up)

Cooking, cleaning, getting together with relatives, all the small talk, all the hateful talk, all the gossipy talk, all the expenses. I hate that shit. Claudia slept almost the entire way. We got home by 11pm.

For most of the prior two weeks I had been on the road. I didn’t miss home at all (although I missed my kids even if they seemed to easily survive two weeks without me).

I didn’t miss a single thing in my home. I didn’t miss my Dr. McCoy doll sitting next to my computer. I didn’t miss any of my books because not only were all books in my Kindle but I was trapped in the middle of the 900 page monster of Murakami’s IQ84**. Once I was 200 pages in I realized it was 900 pages and I felt like I had to finish it.

So for two weeks I went without 99% of my books and 99% of my clothes and without anything else I’ve collected over the last few years. And I actually spent time with friends. What a pleasure it was!

Here’s what I want in the next three years:

A) I want to throw away everything I own.

B) There’s very little need for me to go on the Internet. I can schedule ½ hour a day to answer emails and facebook messages and respond to comments on my blog.

C) I need to be in the New York area right now to see my kids. But once they are older, it means less and less NY time for me and I hate fighting the weather during the middle of winter or the middle of summer. ***

D) All I really need is an ipad**** with a keyboard. Some changes of clothes. Claudia, and cash flow to support a minimal lifestyle.

(see below for my spec of the 'ipad 4' )****

But what about money? Well, if I don’t support my kid’s college educations. And if I don’t own a home, that drives down the costs of living considerably.

And in the new post-2008 financial crisis world, no job provides corporate safety.

(the other extreme. - too much!)

Don’t sweat it if you are stuck in the corporate job right now. But begin to plan ahead. I know from much personal experience that it takes 1-3 years to transition from total scratch to making a living from home in any career you want.

So if you want to make that transition, take a step back. Begin with the daily practice (at a breakfast the other day, one person said to me, “ok, ok, I’m going to FINALLY check out this Daily Practice you keep writing about.”), begin writing down ideas, start sketching out realistic next steps, and tell yourself, “3 years of pursuing this every day and I will be making a living at it.”

Theres really no excuses in that. There’s no “But I can’t…” or “But I have to wait for…”. There’s none. I’ve seen it over and over. Not just with myself but with many others. Just don’t be stupid. Don’t dive into an empty pool. Fill the pool up with enough water so you can swim. It takes time but plan now.

In mid-2008 I got separated from my ex-wife. I moved into a fairly cheap hotel. I had very few clothes. I had no books. I had no furniture (although the hotel had some things that I can vaguely call antiques). I had few friends (it was 2008. Everyone was just trying to survive rather than cultivate friendships). I was in the process of losing every job, both permanent and temporary, that I had. And almost every investment I had was going down.

But I’d wake up in the morning, the sunlight pouring in, a new empty day in front of me, and even though I knew those days wouldn’t last forever and I’d have to hustle to find opportunity again, I began to be happy. After years of sadness. And I still am.

* Follow me on Twitter.

** Murakami’s IQ84 clocked in at 925 pages. It was a bit long for me. The novel at times was a pageturner but I had a hard time finding the kind of voice I like to find when reading. I like to read voices that help me with my own writing and although Murakami is incredibly gifted this book didn’t do it for me.

*** Anyone who says they love the “4 seasons” is telling me bullshit. Much better (for me) to live in an environment with only one season: 60 degrees, mildly gray, no wind, little rain: and that’s it.

**** I need the ipad 4. Not even the ipad 3, which I imagine will just be an enhanced ipad 2, i.e. thinner, faster, longer battery life, more pixels, better cameras. Here’s what the ipad 4 will (my guess) include: multi-tasking, an option for a bigger screen (almost like a portable ipad), easier to plug in accessories (a thin keyboard i can fold away), easier access to 4G networks, etc. Not asking for much. I just want to get rid of my laptop but in worse case still have the basic functionality of the ipad 2 if that’s all I need. (And here’s my spec for the ‘Eye-Pad’)

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