The effectiveness of any plan, routine, or regimen depends on adherence. When well structured, both inputs and outputs are calculable. Both calculability and accountability are short term rewards for those involved. Along with what’s hopefully a clearer understanding of a goal and roadmap to achieving it.
Philosophy, religion, and spirituality are much different. There are various routines to accommodate prayer, lifestyle regimens aligned with faiths, and planning involved in keeping healthy the mind, body, and soul. However adherence to any of them has little correlation to an outcome – if any – being that spiritual growth of any type is unquantifiable and infinitely variable. There’s no proving that a Jewish man who eats pork feels less connected to God than one who doesn’t. There is no proving that those who attend church (I would say religiously…) more often than others hold stronger faiths. Much of philosophy is so esoteric that practicing what you preach can be downright impractical.
No belief entitles a person to any gain. People are too varied. Beliefs are tools we use to assist in discovering ourselves. No tool has inherent value. It seems counterintuitive that religions are considered to promote conformity and control. At their root they are so purely individualistic. Most people seek out answers rather than guidance though, and perhaps that’s the catch-22. Trusting our own judgments is difficult. Especially in matters thought to effect aspects of life believed material. Unfortunately, that distrust only creates compromise. It deteriorates individualism.
Several years ago I sold and donated everything – save a few things I saw as being essential. The process of doing so I documented in these articles. In summary, 32-items of clothing and a satchel of electronics remained at the end. At that time, ownership stood in the way of opportunity. That being the opportunity to travel. In no way do I expect everyone to choose as I do. When faced to choose between materialism and experientialism, experientialism won favor. I purged and left. The decision was not difficult.
I quickly classified the experience of purging as minimalism. It became a part of my identity – seeing myself as a minimalist. Finding books and blogs on minimalism provided validation and guidance. There is a large and welcoming community out there for it – each guru with their unique twist. The year following that transformation was my present and thoughtful. It was clear that by some chance I had discovered something meaningful and authentic to me.
That was three years ago. Since then I’ve fallen off the wagon. A one-bedroom apartment, two closets of clothes, a third closet of things considered important yet I never use, and furniture to hold up more things that – once again – are considered important yet I never use. All of these require maintenance. Maintenance that adds up to an huge commitment of resources. None of those things justify their value of ownership. Yet I keep them and keep giving to them. Why?
Believing I could give more to who I loved if I had more to give – and that doing so had meaning. Over valuing everything external as to underplay and avoid conflicts internal. We tend to accumulate out of fear. Fear being the patriarch to all of our most undesirable and damaging behaviors. And through accumulation we never do out-maneuver our fears – just ourselves.
I may have gotten a little carried away there. Excuse me. This article is a minimalist update, and the first I’ve done in several years. The update is that I once again purged. A bit more dramatically than my original attempt. My new wardrobe consists of the following.
- 7 black t-shirts
- 2 grey longsleeve shirts
- 2 (blue/white) button-down shirts
- 2 jeans (blue/black)
- 1 sweater
- 1 jacket
- 1 navy suite
- 2 workout outfits (shorts and tank tops)
- 4 pairs of shoes (rainboots, chelsea boots, leather dress shoes, running shoes)
- 10 pairs of socks
If I do not count the socks, it’s 22 items total. I don’t even need a suitcase anymore.
Next is the furniture and appliances.