Minimalism Gone Wild

I had been a ruthless accumulator of things. Everything was piling up, especially books. Though our apartment is fairly well organized and generally clean, I couldn’t help but notice a kind of burden my pack-rat lifestyle was reeking on my mind. I also wondered if there was other unforeseen benefits that might occur if I take the plunge into a more minimalistic lifestyle, purge myself of all my “just in case” items, and put an end to the distraction they cause.

This train of thinking began a few years ago after reading Mari Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, but really came into focus when I recently read Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism by Fumio Sasaki. Whereas Kondo is well known for her “Spark Joy” approach to discarding clutter, Sasaki take her approach much further: What if we got rid of even those items that do “Spark Joy”? What if we break down everything to the bare necessities.

I started at the most difficult location for me: the bookshelf. Books are like babies to me, and a book culling is pretty much an affront to everything I believe in. Books, read and unread, represent knowledge. Discarding one is like purposely denying yourself some necessary wisdom. If I could only read and reread every book in my collection, I could gain some kinda of insight into the meaning of life! Or so I thought. The reality is that there were many books on my shelf I had ignored for almost a decade and the chances of me rereading a paperback I hated the first time was highly unlikely.

So I started a full on purge of my collection, thinning out my shelves considerably. Over 30 books whisked away, ready to be sold to Book Off for little to know financial gain. I felt lighter, and my bookshelf could breath again. I haven’t yet regretted parting ways with any of those books.

This unwanted accumulation had begun to spill over into my digital world as well. Apps filled my life and my phone to the brink, so much so that even the folders I was separating them into became too cumbersome. I started with the biggest distracted in modern life: Social Media.

Twitter had become an obsession with me. Not tweeting itself, but just the constant threat of my Twitter feed accumulating while I slept. I would wake in the morning and spend nearly an hour scanning through every tweet. I was a tweet accumulator, my attention span becoming more akin to a moth fluttering between two lanterns. It had to end.

I opted for app deletion rather than full scale account termination. My blog posts and the occasional Instagram pic still get redirected to Twitter. But it’s available on my desktop as a kind of guilty pleasure, one that I have yet to indulge in 2 months after the fact. Twitter joins Facebook in my app dustbin. This also keeps me from overreaching on my data plan.

It didn’t end with my smartphone. I took my minimalism even one step further on my already sparse Linux netbook. I removed so much bloat and stripped this machine to its core. Basically, I run everything out of the terminal. Everything! I removed my graphical file manager. It’s no longer an option. I don’t need a bloaty third wheel like Firefox, especially when this old netbook barely has the specs to load a java applet. If I need to browse the web, I do it 1989 style, text only, with w3m. In fact, I am writing this post in the terminal, on WordGrinder, and uploading to my site via WP-CLI (a command line interface for WordPress).

Basically, I turned my Toshiba NB205-N210 mini notebook (purchased for 300 USD a decade ago) into the ultimate Linux learning machine. Almost everything has to be done through the terminal. No shortcuts.

So my bookshelf is more sparse, my smartphone addiction less pronounced, and my Linux laptop ready to guide me to the LPIC-2 certification sometime next year. Happy Spring!!

What do you think?