This is my first non-technical blog post. And it's going to be about lifestyle minimalism.
Minimalism is eschewing the material for the intellectual and intangible. You purge your possessions. Possessions are basically hydrocarbons arranged in a special ordering. There is nothing special that exists solely in them - their import exists entirely in our own minds. There's no reason to be sentimental, throwing out miscellany or rubbish doesn't get rid of anything but hydrocarbons - the memories & feelings remain.
Us software folk occupy a fortuitous standing: We don't produce material goods, nor do we need much to do our job well - We're not fine artists. It's no coincidence that a large cohort of the minimalists I run into (offline) are (web) developers!
Imagine your worldly possessions as a list of numbers. Given:
Your valued possessions are represented by prime numbers
Everything else is non-prime
Running a primality test on a large input list (to find your meaningful possessions) is expensive. Minimalism is basically a hack to remove known non-prime numbers - shrinking the
I own a mad small set of things and it's sick:
- Secondhand 2015 i7 Macbook Air ($800)
- Last year's Google Pixel (it was discounted by $200 on the Google store)
- 30GB of photos/videos/documents/etc on Google Drive - I exclusively use the cloud.
- 30 GitHub repositories (again, cloud)
- Small wardrobe
- Small book collection
- Small wall shelving unit of childhood possessions I'm purging
- A single dresser drawer of miscellany I'm purging
- 4 guitars
- 2 amps
- A drum kit
- Too much artwork from my time at art school
- Minimal furniture
- Toiletries & necessities
This is everything. I make coldbrew in a food-grade bucket instead of using a coffee machine, so I don't own too many "necessities" - no coffee machines! I'm not cheating by using storage, hiding shit in closets, or leaving it at the parents' house - I'm counting everything. Unlike most of my programming peers, I don't have a growing eWaste collection.
Without all the clutter, I can relax. Psychologists & neuroscientists have discovered that relaxation leads to a more natural progression into a state of mental Nirvana called Flow. It's a new-agey word for "being in the zone". Coding for 12 hours/day is easier, practicing guitar & drums is easier, and I have time to write blog posts. I only have a single room that looks inhabited - it's my drum room. If I wanted to spin any of those ideas into paragraphs, I'd have the time (But I'd rather do something else)!
Sometimes, it feels like just the code or music and I. It can be a little lonely, but it damn, it opened up my mind. Sometimes you just need to look up from your reality and observe the universe for inspiration. Minimalism is the acid of the modern age: Living with less definitely alters your consciousness in a very permanent, stark way. When you're a minimalist, part of the fun is meeting comrades in minimalism and sharing experiences.
Now that I've doxxed myself as a hippie, I encourage you to try minimalism. Start by taking that bag of clothes to Goodwill or by selling that monitor you never use. Get rid of things you don't use. Relish the rush of freedom you feel and don't stop there - keep going as long as you can stand. Go slowly and feel in addition to thinking. Most minimalists get hooked.
I'll never become a TV junkie, or have a hoarding problem, nor fall victim to many time-sucking net-zero pastimes. I'll only ever need ~1K sq ft. I'll never have rooms filled with boxes and stacks of paper and broken dreams. As long as you respect your past and make sure to keep the best things from it, you'll never miss anything or experience negatives. Except the most delicious emptiness.