Getting away from it all? Take it all with you

Getting away from it all? Take it all with you

Two weeks ago today I was pulling into the driveway of a tiny cabin in the little Bear Paw fishing village on Panguitch Lake in Utah. Escaping the 110° inferno of Phoenix, when dad and I arrived the local temperature was 70° and slightly overcast. There was a light, cool breeze. It was about as close to my ideal environment as I get during the course of the year. Except for those RVs. If you’ve been following along, lately I’ve had this kind of minimalist epiphany. Not that we really have that much stuff to begin with, but that’s been more of a financial implication than a deliberate decision. I like having big TVs and fun cars and more rooms in the house just as much as the next guy, but we just could never afford to go crazy with things. The house that mere months ago I was disparaging because it was too small and we’ve probably outgrown it The old car that I love but wouldn’t it be cooler if it was just a bit older and maybe be the original M5 version of the same model When do the new Apple MacBook Pros come out again because this one is starting to act a little wonky and it may just be time to upgrade anyway You get the gist. Now, however, after just a couple of months of getting a little bit more zen about things, I feel like I’m starting to look at stuff differently, like my attitude has caught up with my paycheck. Since we weren’t hoarders or shopaholics to begin with, it’s really just...
On being way off the grid

On being way off the grid

Tuesday night, the end of day three of the annual camping and fishing trip I take with my father. This is the second year he ponied up for a small cabin, in contrast to our regular camp tents. Last year, he decreed that he was too old to be sleeping on the ground, but I suspect the real reason was that he had gotten a little tired of the daily battle with Mother Nature when it comes to meal preparation. On these trips the plan is to fish all day, or at least until we caught our limit or enough for dinner, then get back to camp and hang out and prepare dinner, only to have a monsoon storm whip up and drive us racing for cover while dousing our dinner table with cold rain. Dad and I have taken this annual pilgrimage for about the past seven years, missing only once due to a conflicting event, which we did together. This time is important to us, so we try very hard to make it a priority, not only because we both like to fish, but mostly because it’s one thing we can do to spend time together. Prior to the “too old for this” declaration, like the swallows return to Capistrano, we always made our way back to our own favorite campground in the mountains outside of Durango, Colorado. One of the benefits of the Colorado trip was the fact that we were so far off the grid…12 miles to be exact. That was the distance between me and one bar’s worth of service on my mobile phone....
Developing a taste for minimalism

Developing a taste for minimalism

I wrote earlier about my response to a presentation I attended on the concept of minimalism. While I’d heard talks on it before, and even one by the same person, it never really stuck. I’m not sure what was different this time, but this time the message hit home, becoming more than just a nice idea. I spent that afternoon and evening reading up on the philosophy, soaking up everything I could get my hands on. I found that people I knew or have met around town were going through the same kind of process I was…simplifying, minimizing, trying to take control of their things and subsequently their life. I even spent the weekend reading several zen lifestyle sites (example), which I would usually have just dismissed as a nice idea but not really applicable to today’s busy life. Or more specifically, me in my life. Any way, I decided to put into practice some of what I’d been reading. A big part of minimalism comes just from eliminating things that don’t add value to your life. Does clutter add anything to my life? Not if you don’t include frustration. So last Saturday I made a first pass through my closet, getting rid of the low-hanging fruit: clothes I hadn’t worn in a year…or in some cases – ever. Shoes that I had quit wearing because they hurt my feet, but never gotten rid of. After boxing up the clothes, I looked around the house for other areas I could address. I was struck by the amount of stuff that filled many of the surfaces. Not that the house is messy,...
Considering Minimalism

Considering Minimalism

While never I’ve never been one prone to gathering too much in the way of clutter, the effort to simplify my life has been a conscious challenge. Every so many years I would get tired of the way I have packed things and commitments into every available corner of my life, and I would go through a purge. Clothes, bikes, furniture, appliances, etc would all be on the chopping block, and subsequently end up in a Goodwill donation bin or on Craigslist. Social engagements weren’t safe either: the car club or the online forums and discussion boards, standing golf games, meet up groups or creative gatherings…when the time came, they all went by the wayside. While the freedom this purge afforded always felt great at the time, I would inevitably discover that I’d gotten rid of something I needed, so it would be back to the stores for a replacement jacket or band saw or boots or car vacuum. Before long, not only would I have replaced the items I’d gotten rid of, but more than likely I’ve added more stuff on top of the original set. But hey, new stuff is great, right? And besides, I needed these things. Obviously. I recently attended a Phoenix Creative Morning session where the speaker was Joshua Becker, a somewhat renown minimalist, if that makes any sense. At any rate, during his session he spoke about the moment when he realized that he didn’t have to “own everything.” This was the first time that the idea had ever occurred to him, and the idea changed his life. Ever since, he and his family have...