The art of minimalism or why I have too many books

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”
Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

I have been quite affected by the ideas of minimalism in my life for the past 4 years or so, especially since backpacking through parts of Asia. After living out of a backpack, you start to realize how little you truly need to survive in this day and age. Couple that with seeing what true poverty is and for lack of a better way of saying it, you feel like a complete asshole when you have a lot of stuff that you really do not need.

I have always lived a relatively middle class life, never truly wanting for anything, especially when I lived with my father.  Yet on a personal level I have never been someone to buy a lot of things, even though I admit I have wanted many things in my life. So coming to a minimalist way of thinking was a relatively easy transition for me, if anything I have taken quite a lot of pleasure out of throwing stuff out. I am not messy person, yet I do get lazy to clean so messes arise, yet by having almost nothing it simplifies my life so much, if you own very little, you have very little to clean, simple really.

“Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.”
Henry David Thoreau, Walden

My only true guilty pleasure has been the accumulation of a wide array of books over the years, hitting at over 600 at its peak.  A little while ago I realized that I had not read a  very large amount of them and so I focused my efforts on really finishing them all. There was one caveat though, if a book did not truly interest me, or I had to drag myself through it without some clear good reasoning, then I would just leave it. And so after that I harshly packed a huge amount of my books up and took them to the bookstore to sell or give away at the local value store.

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A couple of hundred books later and this is what I have left. Those novels you see on the floor are books I enjoyed but have decided to re-read to truly judge whether I want to be lugging them around everywhere I move. The bucket on the left is going to be sold, and the one on the right is what I am keeping so far. To those of you who are avid readers this may seem horrendous, but bear with me. I have decided that I will only keep physical books that truly inspire me, that I can read over and over and pull meaning from. In the future I will only be making ebook purchases, I have 50 ebooks to read that I mostly got for free, even there I will only be keeping really good books that I enjoy, those that I find truly priceless will be bought in paperback.  I just do not see the purpose to owning all these damn things in my life. And when you have moved as much as I have, and also backpacked with 20 books in your backpack slowing you down, you realize that enough is enough.

I think this philosophy should be applied to every aspect of your life. Only the things which bring joy and beauty into your life should be kept, everything else should be thrown out or just not bought. You will have less of a headache and a lot more money at the end of the day. I especially think this applies to clothing and accessories, so many people just buy endless amounts of crap quality things that are a waste just because they are looking for a quick fix of feel goodness that comes with spending money on something new, or some insecurity that they cover up by thinking that wearing something new makes them more attractive.  Put out more cash, buy something that is beautiful and fantastic quality that you can see yourself wearing for the next 20 years and that is a good purchase.

This is about more than just saving money and clean up people. The environment is not just some giant resource spewing magical zone, we are destroying all of our resources to make shit quality products just so that people can have some superficial feel good moments. We need to grow up as a species. Not later, now!

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