Category Archives: Minimalism

Life’s Angry Residue

Who specifically I’m referring to in this post isn’t the issue. No one will ever know unless the people involved decide that I’m talking about them. Anyone reading this might as well assume it is a work of fiction, especially since I’m often accused of living in a fantasy world, or of egregious exaggeration. 🙂

I recently practiced sentimental minimalism and it was much more difficult. This time, I was trying to eradicate vestiges of archived anger. This archive contained recorded voicemails, texts, and emails from people whose intention was to seed anger in my mind. Sadly, much of the intent was successful. Some of the effort came close to dragging me into seemingly infinite pits of negativity. There were a couple of points last year that got the best of me.

To listen once again to some of the insanity and read some of the written poison was worse than I expected. It reminded me again of how vicious people can be, especially when their pride is at stake, or when someone insists that another person treat them with respect or stay out of their lives. It was quite the task to recall being accused of some of the stupidity I had been accused of. I don’t blame some of the behavior, though, as I wouldn’t have wanted to accept responsibility for some of those words, both written and spoken, had I authored them. It was easier for them to vilify me than to simply stop bothering me. I get that. It’s the stalker’s mentality of being righteously right – and of getting the last word.

Most of the threats and profanity weren’t even interesting; rather, it was the garden variety stupidity that life tends to dole out with much greater frequency than the interesting type of hate that I find more interesting. (Most of it, too, falls into the category of: “You horrible person! I’m a great person, though. I am going to kill you because of how you acted or what you said. Meanwhile, please allow me to poison your eyes and ears with foul words and language.” The people spouting this nonsense rarely stop to think of just how stupid and crazy they sound when they talk like this!)

If you are more or less normal and reading this, I know you don’t understand how abnormal of a thing I’m describing. I’m not talking about someone you know or love being upset with you for your views on politics or for being late to Thanksgiving dinner. No, I’m describing situations where someone close to you calls or writes and vividly describes how you are going to be killed, or your house set on fire, and how your life is going to be ruined, including all the well-planned details to accompany the threat. Over and over. Normal people rarely need to contend with this level of idiocy and anger.

Since this blog should at least hint at my life, I have to admit that some of it was leftover from someone close. Especially with the audio content, some of the things that were said gave me chills. The anger in that stuff was beyond normal behavior. Some of it lingered in my digital life because I just couldn’t quite get past the idea that I might need to preserve some evidence of how mean they could be. As always, I’m not writing here to ruin anyone’s legacy. Like anyone else, they did good in the world. But the cloud of the misbehavior is more indicative of her true legacy, at least in terms of me. Nothing good comes of me being needlessly harsh toward another person – but it is also true that no good comes from trying to maintain a falsehood of someone’s life, or one not tortured by alcohol.While I haven’t deleted all of the craziness, I rid myself of 95%. In the years to come, it won’t be my opinion which determines someone’s legacy. It will be the collective anecdotes of everyone who knew them, both good and bad. My opinion weighs very little in the balance.

For the very few who have read and listened to some of the things that I had archived and just couldn’t get rid of, the sheer shock and surprise was apparent. I wanted them to see this person with my eyes and ears and a get a glimpse based on evidence, rather than just my word, of the level of evil that could come from people.

I try to delete this stuff with the idea that if I die without notice, the people I love won’t have to weed through the craziness and need to focus on it. It tends to stain everyone it touches, regardless of who is “right.” Those who are close to me know well what was said and done and what my motivations were. Everyone else can and will freely be revisionists to history.I know that if I were to die unexpectedly, there would be a lot of anger from some people about their inability to change history, or at least to change the minds of people who experienced some of that toxic stupidity with me.

The same is true of another family member. Reading some of the anger sent to me in the past was an error on my part. It should have been deleted almost immediately. Unfortunately, some of it had to be kept in case of legal action, which sounds crazy when I write it out like that. I can’t quite get my mind to accept that someone can be so angry that they would actually send some of that anger to another person. But I’m not surprised, given that the vitriol was over years and not limited to single outbursts. That’s a pattern and such long-term anger needs to be met with caution.

As for the last paragraph, it was difficult to let go of the attempt to control how this person had infected people’s opinions of me. The angry person had no choice except to reframe the problem and get attention away from their own life. I was acting in good faith and had attempted to calmly get the person to stop spewing anger – at least toward me. I failed. And at the end of the ordeal, at least in some people’s eyes, I was the villain.That’s the way life is and probably always will be. It’s up to time and friends to watch everyone’s life and to use what they say and do as a litmus to determine who has been lying and spreading dissent and hatred.

Ridding oneself of sentimental baggage is still one of the hardest minimalism challenges for many of us. It’s one thing to get rid of our four extra George Foreman grills or Reader’s Digest condensed books, quite another to trash powerful emotional residue.  I have looked at a couple of my archives over the last year and was simply unable to delete them entirely- even though just looking at it added misery to my life. Digital stuff can be just as depleting as piles of old hangers in one’s closet. It doesn’t enhance your life or make you happier – and it crowds out the “new”in one’s life. One thing I could do was to minimize the volume by writing a synopsis and having it notarized. Some day soon I will discard that, too.

I love photos, but hate photography. Another digital leftover were hundreds of pictures of an old friendship. I was close to someone who lashed out in anger and told me to go fly a kite. While I kept a very few pictures of our shared times, I finally was able to delete almost all of the pictures from that time. It wasn’t easy, but I felt better about it after all the photos and backups were gone.I was hoarding my past, or trying to. It’s difficult enough to keep one’s mind trained and focused without veering off into neurosis without adding constant reminders in the form of pictures, emails, texts or voicemails.

 

 

05292012 I Didn’t Know I Was Already a Minimalist

I might be a minimalist, but at times I can get a little crazy. One of my favorite cousins wanted a hard-to-find cookie. Instead of a sleeve, I got him an entire case to celebrate.

All my life I have used the “6 month or a year rule” to throw things out. Even when I didn’t actually throw it out, it  didn’t control my emotions. I could throw things out without much consideration.

Granted, one of my weaknesses used to be electronics and related supplies. At one point, I had 1/2 a decently-sized closet full. They didn’t get in the way of anything but it was an unnecessary amount of “just in case” philosophy in action.

Having lost my stuff several times in fires probably deserves some of the credit, too, though. After watching Hoarders, it occurred to me that most of the crazy hoarders on the show use loss as an excuse to be a packrat. In my case, the opposite happened.

Another thing about me is that I NEVER sell things that I no longer want. There were a couple of exceptions when I was younger and I hated it, especially in one case when the TV I had sold went out almost immediately on a friend from work. If I have things that I no longer use, I give them away. I’ve given away treadmills, recliners, computers, DVD players, all while in good condition. I’m not saying that for a pat on the back. I’m saying it because I think it’s the best way. Unless you are starving or desperately need the money, giving your stuff to people who will use it is the best possible option for everyone.

Most minimalist sites seem to encourage you to sell your stuff – and that’s fine for most people. At least you are getting rid of it. But what better way to get a boost by surprising someone with “free” ?

Lately, without any fanfare, I have been throwing at least 1 thing a day away, usually more than 1. I’ve done it for three months now.

My wife knows that I am cleaning out or organizing but I don’t think she knows how far it has went. There have been many items that I have simply tossed when I should have given them to someone. An example would be the Gem Saloon whiskey glasses. But my desire to rid myself of them couldn’t be ignored, so I tossed them when the urge struck.

Likewise, I discarded almost 1,000 pictures this week. I scanned anything I wasn’t absolutely sure about, just in case. I backed them up on another computer and in the cloud before actually tossing them. But it’s yet another box in the closet that will no longer be there.

03052012 Wall Murals For Your Home + “CrazyWall”

Linnaea Mallette     http://goo.gl/uxzm5M  I know this is an outdoor mural, but imagine something such as this inside your house.

The older I get, the more I am intrigued and even convinced how much more interesting our lives could be if we would have wall murals in our houses. Murals are great along public walls, in restaurants or in art galleries.

As an addition to one’s home, I think they could not only be interesting, but a cheaper alternative to traditional walls, paintings or decorations. Granted, I would prefer ones painted by members of the family, friends, co-workers, etc. Otherwise, support an art student or local artists by giving them permission to do the best they can, or even to surprise you.  Murals can be “fixed” with a coat of paint. That’s not true of most decoration or style ideas in a house.

I know that we are supposed to be trapped and confined by our irrational obsession with “home value” and treat our lifeboxes as if they are nothing more than an investment to be devoid of interesting quirks and adornment. (By the way, I think “Lifebox” would be an ideal alternate name for the word “house.” It almost mocks the nature of what a residence is versus what it could be…)

(Another sidenote: we could convince HGTV to start another word’s creation: Crazywall. It would be used to indicate that an area or space has been deliberately done in a creative, crazy way.)

Wall Murals to Spark Your Imagination! (Click)

05212014 Car Conceitedness

Faith In Humanity:   1 point
Car Conceitedness:   0 point

Two or three mornings ago, I was exiting the grocery store. Evidently, I had just missed witnessing an accident in the parking lot. A younger female employee from the store had backed into the side and rear end of an elderly gentleman’s car as he drove through.

Although the gentleman’s car was already scratched and dented some, the woman’s car was less damaged. There was slight damage to both cars from bumping. Both drivers exited their vehicles. Much to my pleasure and hopes, after a few exchanged pleasantries, both got back into their respective vehicles and went about their business. 

This is exactly how many of these encounters should end – but we’ve seen most of them morph into tedious bureaucratic wastes of time.

I wish that we weren’t so focused on the small stuff about our vehicles. They should be primarily to transport us safely and comfortably from place to place, rather than be worried about so much. A few dents and scratches are normal for a car well used.

Not only would our insurance be lower if more people stopped worrying about the lesser cosmetic defects on their vehicles, but it might make some people happier.

Let’s Obsess Over Our Vehicles, Shall We?

I’ve written before the issue of acceptance of the deterioration of ‘things.’ No matter how cool and interesting your new thing is, time and entropy rules over it.

You’ve also been subjected to my dumb personal opinion about the obsession with personal vehicles. I don’t understand the “pride in ownership” argument in regards to cars. All I want is something that is reliable and comfortable. If it were zero emissions and sustainable, that would be pretty nifty, too. If someone offered to sell me a perfectly reliable car at 1/2 price, yet insist on spray painting it 16 crazy colors, I would not care. Wheel covers don’t match? Don’t care. Seats are all different? Doesn’t bother me. Not only would it be easier to locate in the parking lot amidst all the pristine, over-priced cars, but I could paint over a scratch at almost zero cost, put any part on it yet still claim that it matches, and have something interesting to look at.

Most people who seem to love their cars don’t take a  minute to think about the fact that a million other people have cars exactly like theirs, down to the leather seats, alloy wheels, and sunroof. Exact matches. Yet their specific car, the one which looks like most other cars on the road, somehow adds a special zest to their life? Hmmm… People get mad at me when I talk this to. If I ever thought to myself “Man, I need to go wax my car,” I might decide instead to drive it into the river.

I don’t care if it hails or storms unexpectedly, especially since my ability to control the weather is not one of my skills. I’d prefer to not have windows shattered or get hurt when it hails. But I would never lose my mental stability simply because ice falls from the sky and damages my personal vehicle. For all of you who are normal and disagree with me, come walk on the dark side with me.  Your day can be ruined without notice. You can worry about going on with your life for fear of your car being damaged by something totally out of your control. A stray shopping cart can roll across the parking lot and mar your immaculate baby blue paint job or scratch the trunk of your vehicle. You drive around, searching for at least minimal coverage for your car, instead of hopping out and getting to your destination. You move your vehicle four times to gain optimal protection from the potential of damage.

And then a tornado, flood, fire, thief, careless driver, or falling tree reminds you that your vehicle is just a thing, designed for a specific purpose. All your obsession has done is expose you to loss. Yes, a car can be interesting to look at. But I think our world will be a better place when people stop concerning themselves with their personal vehicles. We’ll be able to live more cheaply, pay less insurance, and focus on living and doing, rather than protecting stuff.

Before the crazies stretch my argument, I’m not advocating letting everything look like garbage. Quite the contrary. Nor do I want people to be slovenly. But when I see or hear someone obsessing over physical details of their personal vehicles, I wonder to myself if they know there is another way to look at it. Usually, the answer is “no.”

I know I probably bug people with my contrary attitude. All I see if a means of transportation. I don’t think my car reflects on me as a person, whether it is a BMW or ’76 Pinto.

 

A Car is Just a Better Way to Travel

I still am missing the male gene that requires any member of the human race who also has facial hair to be concerned about his vehicle. (Which might include the occasional female or flannel-wearing member of our species.) This includes the size of the engine, whether it can traverse a 20-foot deep water-filled ravine in mid-December, and how new the model is. I don’t care. Does it accelerate decently without using more gasoline than a 20 year-old arsonist? If so, I’m fine. If it has good air conditioning and a radio, even better.

I would give up ALL aesthetics of my automobiles in exchange for reliability. All of it. It could be the ugliest monstrosity this side of Wyoming and as long as it afforded better mechanical reliability, I would welcome it. Being able to easily find parts and mechanics is of greater practicality to me.

I’ve never been one to care much about cars, nor about upgrading and tricking them out. If it has the modern conveniences and decent gas mileage, all else is irrelevant. I had thought that aging might perhaps bring out the macho concern in me, but it hasn’t. When I’m working around younger men, it still amuses me to hear them talk about variations on their self worth being tied to the desirability of their vehicles.

Imagine if we had 5 or 6 varieties of vehicles. Not based on model or brand; rather, based on utility. Most of us simply need an affordable sedan with good gas mileage. All else is secondary and drives up the cost. The super rich could then just have their vehicles specifically made, leaving us boring folk to take advantage of the reduced costs associated with having fewer vehicles.

As for vanity modifications such as pin stripes, wheels larger than a small house, chrome bumpers, or canopy running lights, just tax those. I can see my plan being very popular with those who enjoy flying a rebel flag on the front porch.

While I can appreciate a nice vehicle, our obsession with cars is one of the reasons our society is so complicated and expensive. Yes, I’m trying to make a minimalism point here. My car doesn’t reflect on who I am. It doesn’t “give me pride,” a phrase I loathe hearing about vehicles.

But if you have 24″ tires or more than 2 square feet of chrome in unusual places on your mode of transportation, you probably disagree with me.