Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Minimalist Urge

Occasionally, something inside me makes me want as little as possible.  I've always loved small cars.  Originally it was because English sports cars were small, and so was my Aunt's '66 VW Bug.  I never got the English sports car, but I was lucky enough to own that Bug for a few years.  I loved the zippiness of small cars, and the fact that I could park them where your standard American behemoth couldn't fit.  I drove a Honda CRX for 23 years.  I am almost certain I will never drive another car that good. Still, that's another story.  Now I love small cars for all those reasons, but also because I want to leave as light a footprint as possible.  I'd love to be able to pass by and leave no trace except maybe DNA from errant skin cells and hairs.  

I've always admired friends who had stripped their lives down to minimal possessions and were quite happy with things that way.  I've only known two who really managed it, and I've envied both of them.  The compact and seemingly unencumbered way they lived really appealed to me.  I still haven't sorted out why the lack of things appeals so strongly.  Is it because of my desire to have the least impact upon the world so as to damage it as little as possible, or is it because I'm a lazy swine at heart and would love to not have to deal with a pile of things?  It gets exhausting dealing with lots of things, so the latter could be the reason.  Life can be exhausting enough without having to deal with a pile of things at home.

I can recall being on ships and boats where everything was set in its place and nothing was just lying around.  Whenever I've seen that I've admired it.  I've written before about wishing that I could make my whole house that way, as though it were a seagoing yacht; everything lashed down securely, clean, oiled if need be, and ready for its intended use.  I know it can be done.  One of the two friends mentioned above was an alpine climber.  His room in a shared house was a picture of this kind of thing.  His climbing gear was all stowed properly, his books (main entertainment since he had no TV) were always in their case, no clothes lay about, no dirty coffee get the idea.  Can it be done by me, here?  That is the question and I'd have to say no at this point.  Two rambunctious children will see that idea right out the door with big grins on their impish mugs.

This minimalist urge extends to my feet.  I found shoes recently that are more like slippers or racing shoes for a distance runner in profile, but good for all day wear.  I have been wanting something like that for decades.  They feel almost as though I am not wearing shoes.  This isn't necessarily just because of how my feet feel. It's as much about my perception of how I move and how it feels to move.  I feel faster and quieter and even lighter, as I want to feel.  This is definitely about aging and my ongoing attempt to slow that process, on some level.  Who wouldn't want to maintain a feeling (or call it an illusion if you like) that one can move like Fred Astaire or Cliff Branch if he wants?  Upon reflection, this also is part of my ongoing rejection of the national paradigm of bigger and louder.  Bigger and louder ain't better!

Now I have to turn in.  There's more to this, but this little essay will turn to mush if I don't quit writing it.



Blogger Don said...

I've always wanted to minimalize. Sheri used to make fun, if so kind a phrase can be used, of my preference for spare furnishings. Somewhere when I was young I saw a room with a hard wood floor and a chair and practically nothing else. It was still and quiet like a painting and ever since I've wanted to live in that painting.

Well, I possess a lot of things but mostly because one thing I don't possess is the time and willpower to go through them and get rid of them. The house is jammed, my apartment is jammed, and I have more than one storage unit also jammed, jammed with objects inherited from various ancestors or acquired during all those years of "building". I'm done with that now, though, and the objects simply remain, as flotsam washes about under the dock, no longer needed and sort of but not quite in the way.

10:46 AM  
Blogger Harry said...

Time and energy at the same time is my biggest barrier. The two rarely seem to coincide On top of which, everytime they do, there is some weird reason why I can;t do what I want. Our garage is a brutal example. If I had my way, everything in it would be pushed out to a dumpster and hauled away to a new fate somewhere beyond our ken. But no! Rrggggggghhhh....

10:18 AM  

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