“Minimalism is the tool that creates the margin for the things you care most about.”
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Embracing the Process of Craft
In defence of the amateur experimenters
Think of the word craft and there seems to be a common association with forms of wildly expressed expertise. We conjure in our minds verifiable masters; possibly figures like Michelangelo, perched close to the ceiling in the Vatican, brush extended; or Rene Redzepi, the chef of the world’s greatest restaurant, NOMA. Maybe even a local venerated carpenter; 30 years into his practice; a master of the chisel and saw.
The word’s reputation goes even further. When we are crafty, we are perceived as evasive or sneaky; qualities not uncommon with magicians. Surely, those of not steeped in specific talents are surely too blunt, too obtuse, too distractible to master the mysterious subjects that craftsman work with. We affirm this with the habitual and somewhat damaging colloquialism ‘I can’t draw’.
I would argue that we come to such conclusions too swiftly. We ignore that standing firmly in reality; craft is simply a process, not a destination. It is a spectrum that includes all levels, not just the renowned and spotlight-bound. By trying something new and striving to learn, we are destined to learn something. Just how much… is up to you.
A recent set of experiences have reassured me on this line of thinking. I have taken up baking; sourdough bread to be specific, commercial yeasts wild and cantankerous relative. Set against a setting of esteemed sourdough bakeries all over the world, I certainly don’t plan to open a bakery and certainly won’t reach the quality of Bristol’s or London’s finest offerings. But that doesn’t matter. I have absorbed a great deal. I now know the difference between real and fake bread, how to knead dough and how to make it rise. As a result of all these things, I appreciate bread more. As is the way with anything we invest ourselves in.
Who knows what is next for me; perhaps craft beer, different forms of writing, growing plants, or even movement practices such as yoga. All of these are intriguing and they all have minimal entry thresholds, costing very little to get started. I know that they have depth I will never reach, but I am ok with that. The fundamentals are fun.
You don’t need to be a master to do something. You just need to do it. It’s all easy at the beginning. Start simply.
Using the philosophy of “You Only Live Once” to live a life of quality
Working for a corporate company, a lot was expected of me—a lot of work, progress, money, luxury, promotions, work hours, socialising, and things I could no longer count. I was climbing a mandatory ladder leading to even more of these expectations. I was trapped.
I was also drained. I had short-term memory loss; I would forget events I had attended and people I had met within 48 hours. A lot was lost in the sea of Corporate. Despite great friends, a great career, and a life of dreams, I felt empty. I wasn’t living at all. I was insecure and afraid of losing things I never owned. I was overwhelmed by constant distractions and mental clutter!
The Real YOLO Moments
For nearly three years, I was a minimalist when it came to my possessions—but with my life, I was anything but. I was living according to a “You Only Live Once” philosophy where you do everything you possibly can because time is limited. Attend every event, set up three businesses in one go, take two professional qualifications and run three work projects, just because you can. I never realised that this “YOLO” philosophy was really about the quality—not quantity—of experience. One great project or business that you are passionate about is sufficient. Moments with loved ones are more valuable than the ones spent climbing a corporate ladder.
Our real quality moments are often the ones we overlook. So I made an effort to observe. Where in the day did I find my “Safe Places”? I define a Safe Place as a moment where I felt indescribable happiness and bliss, positivity and calm. It could also be a person with whom I could laugh my heart out, or a place where I could close my eyes for hours and wake up with joy. I feel safe in these moments.
My Safe Places
At a table by the window of the coffee shop down the road, having an oat latte with a warm croissant. Fresh air and mountain sunrises. Warm morning sun and the sound of waves. Going on adventures with only carry-on luggage. Writing postcards. Spending time to care for people in need. Kissing and hugging my partner. Laughing with him until my cheeks hurt. Playing cards with my parents. Working on my favourite business project. Cuddling with my year-old niece. Waking up early to exercise, practice yoga, and meditate. Spending time with my best friends. Writing 10 things I am grateful for each morning. Studying Spanish for 10 minutes a day. Reading every morning and listening to classical music. Spending time at a mountain cabin with a log fire inside and snow outside. Cooking simple yet delicious meals. These are my real YOLO moments.
What are your Safe Places? They are a part of your daily life, only waiting to be noticed.
I deliberately schedule more time at my Safe Places every day. It can be early mornings, lunch breaks, or late evenings. I have removed people, events and commitments that no longer serve me. I have cut down my business initiatives. I buy quality products and never more than I need. I eat clean and feel great in mind and body. I exercise and meditate every day. I have done less and yet achieved more in my career and in my personal life. Deliberately choosing my life has helped me focus and reinvest my time and energy to maximize the value returned. I feel balanced.
Your Safe Places are closer than you think and I hope you find them and visit them every day.
A Little More of Less
A few other articles we think you might enjoy…
What My Mind Does When I Commit to Hard Things by Leo Babauta
The Stories We Tell Ourselves by Joshua Becker
The Powerful Practice of Living Without by Courtney Carver
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