I don’t own a couch. There’s one chair in my living room, and there’s a small end table that doubles as my coffee table. There is a television, and there is internet/cable equipment, but there are no lamps and no decor.
Last night I watched a documentary on the resurgence of minimalism. It seems that after decades of rampant consumer frenzy, a small counter-culture movement in opposition to materialism is afoot. Initially, I felt an unearned sense of pride at being ahead of the trend, but then I had to examine whether or not that’s a valid claim.
I’ve never been a materialistic guy. I didn’t grow up with much luxury or excess, and I think that tends to affect people in one of two ways: Some learn to be comfortable living with less, and some spend their lives trying to ensure they never have to again. I’m of the former camp.
Over the years, I’ve prided myself on what I’ve considered to be my adaptability. Because I have very few material “wants”, I don’t often confuse them with my concrete “needs” which are then pretty easy to meet. This quality has enabled me to travel through some less comfortable parts of the world in a less restricted manner, free to experience environments organically instead of through the obscuring veils of privilege and convenience.
Spending time legitimately cold and hungry does change your perspective, it’s true.
Despite my silly self-righteousness, though, I was able to identify some significant differences between myself and the gentlemen in the documentary who had purposely chosen minimalism as their preferred lifestyle.
For one thing, theirs was a conscious and purposeful decision. It contained an element of sacrifice in favor of an ideal. I would like to say the same is true for me, but I certainly can’t say it is true in the same way. The two men in the video had already attained corporate success and had abandoned it for a…