Shoeboxes

I knew at some point that I was going to have to go into the cupboard and face the tower of shoe boxes.

Ticket stubs, memoirs, photos and knick-knacks.

Little time capsules of good feelings.

Nostalgia batteries.

Fully charged.

Sentimental Things

The nostalgia-fest will take a few hours.

I started with this shoe box as a target size.

What’s in the box?

I ended up with these items:

  • A lot of 35mm photography prints and negatives
  • An A4 folder containing school reports, certificates and similar things
  • Various individual packages of various trip stubs, notes, maps etc
  • A collection of tickets from the best gigs I’ve been to
  • My Dennis the Menace Fan Club membership wallet – one of the very few connections I have to my pre-emigration 10 year old self
  • 3 Cuban pesos
  • Did I mention a metric shit-ton of photographs?

These old prints are slices of life so I wanted to hang on to them.

That’s 33 sets of 35mm prints at various sizes.

Each between 24 and 36 exposures.

One thousand photos.

Ish.

Please try again

I didn’t go through every photograph the first time, I just made them take less space by removing the paper wallets.

We need better constraints, so let’s keep a maximum of five prints per album, and all of the developed negatives.

This leave us with around 50-100 prints.

And while we’re here, let’s be more brutal and digitize the low-quality things like holiday ticket stubs.

It was easy, bar a few high quality items that I couldn’t bear to discard yet, such as the last birthday card my grandfather wrote to me before his sudden and unexpected death,

Somehow, I couldn’t just throw away his last written message to me.

But one day,  I will.

The Second Pruning

  • Fifty prints
  • Over a thousand negatives
  • Two certificates
  • The birthday card from my Grandfather
  • The Order of Service from the Nan’s funeral
  • Four gig tickets
  • 3 Cuban pesos

It’s comforting to just know that I can connect with my more distant past through a small pile of photographs.

And, suddenly we don’t need that shoebox anymore.

What didn’t make the cut

  • 950-ish prints
  • 100 negatives
  • 6 holidays of trinkets, stubs, maps and keepsakes (photographed, instead)
  • A wallet of workplace-related mementos (photographed, instead)
  • School reports (photographed, instead)
  • Old letters (photographed, instead)
  • … the list goes on

Lessons learned

This all depends on the person and collection of stuff, but my thoughts are as follows:

  • Pruning sentimental things will require at least two passes
  • Only high quality attachments deserve originals – digitize the rest
  • Most things probably aren’t high quality

It also helped me to imagine myself in the future carrying a very large backpack full of things, and to then ask myself if I’d bring it with me.

Imagining myself carrying that first shoebox with one thousand photos and knick-knacks – that image made me try again.

The final result offered a much higher value-to-weight ratio.

Further reductions

This could easily be reduced further.

I have already been painfully aggregating and organising my digital library into a small 5TB USB hard drive, so why not just scan the rest of the photos?

I might still do that.

But not now.

Later.

Food

 

Spending an hour with these ducks made me notice my complete disconnection from the food I eat. That’s something to explore more in the future. but feels relevant.

I’ve previously experimented with the ketogenic and paleo diets and tried out protocols like Intermittent Fasting.

A couple of weeks ago I cut out added sugar, meat, and dairy.

Sugar

I think it was about a year ago that I was reading about the impact on our gut flora when we eat refined sugar.

It piqued my interest enough for me to cut it out entirely for a while.

The first three weeks was like getting over an addiction.

Like a dog at the dinner table, I stared at forkfulls of cake. I’d catch myself doing it, and then have to intentionally draw my gaze away.

Definitely some dopamine action going on there.

I didn’t maintain it after two months, but I did lose a long-term preference for sugary food.

Meat

What would it feel like to replace meat with easier-to-digest and more nutritionally-dense plant-based food?

Only one way to find out.

Dairy

Just like my flirtations with varied diets, I have also spent time trying to replace milk.

Almond milk. Rice milk. Soya milk. Cashew milk. Oat milk.

I’ve been using Good Hemp for a few weeks now, and it’s been perfect for breakfast, especially porridge.

A bit of a so-so aftertaste in certain drinks, so it’s not a complete winner, but a welcome option.

Removing dairy is the trickiest part of the diet for me.

An ice cold glass of milk on a warm day… ooooh!

Let’s see.

The Room

I’ve moved into one of the smallest bedrooms, emptied it, and moved every minimised Thing inside.

  • It’s easier to re-evaluate what I’ve already minimised
  • I gain more actual minimal living experience
  • It should incentivize progress

Comfort

Despite the localised chaos as I rip Things from their hiding places this week, I’ve felt many subtle urges to slow down.

One trigger has been this television:

I have spent hours sat in that room staring at that 50 inch piece of glass, so why would this process make it any different?

Learning from YouTube on my phone and sitting down to watch a film on my television are very different things.

That television is all about comfort.

This lifestyle change isn’t.

Room Constraints

  • Only minimised things are allowed in here (besides matress)
  • If inside house, minimised things must only be used here (besides phone)
  • If inside house, all eating must happen here

For now, this small room is my dwelling place.

The house is where I work on this project.

Technology

So, here’s my technology.

Ish.

There’s a whole section of music gear that I haven’t considered yet – so really this should be titled ‘Computing’ or similar:

  • A box with over 450 feet of ethernet cable and various network appliances.
  • The desktop PC I’ve been upgrading and neglecting since 2010 (I’m strongly resisting listing mods and specifications)
  • Three keyboards – one of which is an expensive fancy mechanical type.
  • 11 Hard drives.
  • Two sets of speakers.
  • Five mice.
  • Eight USB hubs.
  • Two laptops.
  • Three laptop chargers.
  • A custom-built home theatre PC and file server.
  • 140+ (!) blank optical media.
  • Twenty-something USB dongles for this and that.
  • One box of Arduino gear and experiments.
  • One box of “Ooh, might use this next time I build a PC” stuff.
  • Three CD cases containing bad software purchases and boot discs.
  • Every type of USB cable that has existed, with numerous duplicates.

Starting

Starting was very easy.

Pick up clunky old thing, smirk wryly, and put aside.

It’s a breeze!

I’ll skip the part where I organized what felt like hundreds of cables – that was more tedious than <current-reality-tv-show>

Attached

Half way through this process I noticed that the attachments in play were mostly of responsibility.

I felt an amount of guilt for under-utilized or outmoded things.

I’m relieved to identify that this life of abundant possessions is genuinely undesirable, but now I have to find responsible places for all this stuff.

Give it away, give it away, give it away now

There are things I will try to sell online, but most of this Stuff is going to be given away.

It’s much quicker – I just want to move on.

Not wanting to create more asymmetrical relationships, I decided that “Pay me what it’s worth to you” is best.

There are no shortcuts to this, despite the temptation to throw some stuff out.

We need to be better at re-purposing things, especially with tech.

The Result – Version 1.0

  • Laptop
  • Laptop charger
  • Wireless mouse
  • USB Storage
  • Camera
  • A few SD Cards
  • USB charger
  • 12V USB charger
  • Portable USB charger
  • Cables

I’ll let you know how I get on with this.

The Spare Bed

I probably spent a month walking into rooms and immediately “Nope”-ing out of them.

Every Thing has attachments: the well-meaning intentions for This, the obligation of That, the open loops of Those.

Way too much to deal with.

Emotionally draining somehow.

Part of why I want this.

I needed a way to get going.

Constraint #1: Everything must fit on a bed

This bed.

The spare bed.

A double-sized bed.

Else this might have been titled “The Dining Table Constraint” or something dumber – what is this, a popular over-running US sitcom?

‘Minimal’ doesn’t have defined boundaries, but at least now we’ve got a physical target – and even that is just another starting point.

Collections of Stuff

I decided to try out the bed with a smaller group of stuff – Technology.

I collected everything in the house that was tech-related and put it on the bed for a cross evaluation and initial triage.

Holy shit.

 

 

 

Today

I reset work.

I wanted to write a wordy piece entitled The End of Work – or something – but it seemed a disingenuous way to start.

So let’s just leave it with just a few words, for now.

Now, I’m going to ramble on a bit and explore some present thoughts.

It’s all a jam session, ‘innit?

Hashtag #minimalism #yolo

I’ve mentioned minimalism frequently in discussions with people but the truth is that I’ve read very little on the topic.

A scroll through the Minimalism page, a couple of videos on Youtube,  the website by that guy who did a sick ass job on an Astro.

I’m not sure I’ve noticed the ‘real’ minimalists yet, but social media seems to be loaded with pretentious hashtag junkies.

I didn’t sign up for a trendy hashtag lifestyle, so I’m going to avoid the label until I’ve got a better handle on that whole thing.

This is just supposed to be about resetting my life.

And reducing inauthenticity – but that’s another thing.

I’m hoping I’ll then boot into a leaner, more baggage-less existence.

I don’t know what that will look or feel like.

I’m making no plans; I will just let it happen.

Authenticity

I guess I can linger here a bit, too.

I believe that my inner and subjective gauge of personal authenticity correlates with personal feelings of fulfilment and harmony.

I know people who have always seemed deeply authentic, but it’s only recently that I’ve felt a strong guidance towards it myself.

Nowadays I notice the delta when I’m out of alignment and make small Intentions to guide future behaviours.

Jam

It seems that writing is a part of the process.

Which means I can be a bit more chill with structure – you’ll just have to forgive the irregular beat of this thing.

Let’s just see what’s here.

It’s a jam session.

Few rules.

Harmonious contributions to what’s happening now.

Riffing, listening, responding – feeling what’s right for this moment.

What is here today?

A moment for Intent

I said I’m not one for blogging and honestly, I don’t want this, because blogs are kinda out-there and really – I want to be in-here.

This project is an opportunity for real life-changing. Public and open, even if unread, the site forces a certain amount of attention and re-contextualization inside what is, mentally, quite a messy process.

It also helps with reflection – otherwise, why collect your thoughts if they aren’t going anywhere?

I’ll take it.

Paranoia

I’m fond of the realisation that it helps to not take anything too seriously – including self-importance – so I wanted to focus on that for a moment and throw this out-there:

I find myself second-guessing friends’ judgements because this doesn’t really need to be public. I don’t want to seem narcissistic.

I wanted to draw attention to the process, and not myself.

But they are interdependent.

I chose all this Stuff, and if there’s anything to share of this pruning, then I have to be completely out-there for it to work.

Uncomfortable.

Why

I’ve never really been one for blogging.

Besides the odd tech post, I haven’t had much to write about.

But I just woke up from a very hazy reoccurring dream, in which I mostly sat around indoors and took a lot of things far too seriously.

This blog is a highlight reel of my journey into self-inquiry and minimal living as I attempt to reset my life the best I can.

Stick around – I don’t know what’s next.

Stuff

Without getting all philosophical about how we never truly own anything, there’s a lot of Stuff in my home.

SPOILER: You don’t own shit, earth-person

There are many bloated households, but some of us do manage to reassess the benefit-cost ratio of our Things more regularly.

I used to think I was good with Stuff because I’d only occasionally buy new Things, but as it turns out there was still a lot of Stuff – I’d just hidden the Things in more charming places around the house.

If you have a large home – which currently, I do – you’ll know how easy it is to squirrel away Things you don’t want to deal with yet.

Feelings

Feelings are supposed to be fleeting.

Why would you want to receive the exact same email over and over again? It just creates more mess to deal with later.

Ignoring these little messages can make the smallest niggle a chronic affair, lowering its quality and bringing you down with it.

I should do something with That.

A thought like that is often a response to a feeling of guilt, shame or perhaps grief – whatever it weighs.

We feel for a reason.

Open the email.