It's Minimalism Week here on And Then We Saved!
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Today we're sharing Jim's story. He's a fellow Coloradan and he became a minimalist by default. Below is his story… – Anna
Not wanting to work with my soon to be ex-wife and her soon to be next husband, I took a new job some distance from home. I spent the following two months getting that home ready for sale. When the Colorado snow moved in, an hour commute became well over two. Needing to be at work on time I bought a zero degree sleeping bag and began sleeping in the back of my truck between shifts. I boiled down my life to exist out of my truck and eliminate the commute. Small bag of clothes, toiletries, a cooler. This was only supposed to be temporary. A means to an end. Sell the house, find a place closer to work and start over.
Start over buying all the stuff I was now getting rid of. Get rid of the couch, then eventually buy a new one. Dump the TV, buy another. Kitchen supplies, those too. I have seriously lost 3 or 4 meat thermometers at the end of relationships. This was my plan, get rid of everything then ‘start over,’ trading my future labor to do it. Growing up in New Jersey in the 90s this is what I learned. You get married, then divorced, then lose half your stuff, then spend the next several years buying the stuff you lost, then do it again. It was common and I thought I was no different.
Parked on Colfax I awoke on a February morning in my ice encrusted sleeping bag to a serene calm. The house was on the market. Everything I owned now fit into my truck or in a 4′ x 8′ storage shed. My life consisted of duffel bags and a gym membership. Lying there watching my breath condense on the ceiling I had found a peace that had eluded me for the previous two months. In fact, it had been eluding me for the majority of my 30 years. On my day off with no home to take care of, my mind was free.
I spent that morning walking Colfax, thinking of the future. I thought of all the broken promises we keep to ourselves in garages and storage units. I thought about how the American Dream had become filling your house with plastic trinkets from China while not making time for family and friends. There were many things I wanted to do in this life and I began to ponder when I would get to all of them. Was I really about to start this process all over again? I was saddled with all of my belongings for the past two months because life had taken an unexpected turn. Why would I recreate a voluntary prison again?
My journey into minimalism had begun.
Letting go of the need to acquire stuff and making room in life for the things I wanted was not easy. Emptying that 4′ x 8′ storage shed and selling or giving away the majority of the contents was not a snap decision. Renting a studio and having only a mattress on the floor was also something that did not suddenly become appealing. Though, overtime they became symbols of what else I was able to do with my life.
Minimalism became my refuge to finally start living, and not just working in hopes of one day ‘having the money and time.’
With the downsizing came the ability to work less and create time in which I was able to step back and make several observations.
Here's what I've learned:
1. Make your employer need you more than you need them
Having the ability to walk away at any moment is true freedom. Most employers today are rarely investing in their employees. I suggest you invest in your physiological-spiritual 401k. The returns are guaranteed, not subject to market volatility, and you do not have to wait until your are 62 to begin enjoying it.
2. Society is a trap
Much of the American economy is built on consumerism. Everyday you are bombarded with the idea that through owning this and that you will uncover your happiness. You won’t. Ask yourself “Where does my happiness come from?” I guarantee that your answer will not be at Target.
3. Design your life
We give our employers power over us by chaining ourselves to our payments and our possessions. Retain that power by not giving it away to Best Buy, and create room in your life for your life.
Minimalism is something each of us has to define for ourselves. Through my exploration and defining of the word I have been able to have things in my life that will never produce an income. Things such as personal pursuits, being available for friends and family, and travel. They may never produce a check, but are more than capable of producing a life well lived.
This post was written by Jim. Jim lives and works in Denver, with an incredible lady and two chihuahuas. He wants you to know that despite legalized marijuana, Colorado still stands. You can find his ramblings and thoughts at www.contentvirga.com.
P.S. Looking to declutter and minimize? CLICK HERE to learn about the Fearless Minimalist Guide