“If everything is sentimental, then everything loses its sentiment.”
Inside Minimalism, Vol. 1
Based on our exclusive subscription series, Inside Minimalism Vol.1 is a collection of 50 short and relatable essays on simple living by a small team of writers from different backgrounds, but who all share a deep appreciation for minimalism as a way of life. Enjoy a curated collection of beautiful writing with a single one-off purchase and support independent creators.
Words by Anthony Do
I was twenty four years old. I ended a long-term relationship with a woman who I thought I was going to marry one day. I had a business partner that abruptly died of a heart attack one morning. I come from a small rural town in the prairies of Alberta and I had never traveled a day in my life. I wasn’t quite at rock bottom, but my thoughts were very much in line with someone who did not see the point of living. My confidence and self-esteem was so low that I wouldn’t dare walk by a mirror or any reflective surface that would reveal my face or body. I felt like a talentless shell of a human.
One night, I had a weird feeling in my stomach when I was out with some friends. It was a fleeting sensation of anxiousness. It was something I had never felt before in my life. I remember walking out of the lounge that night feeling like something had changed inside of me. Looking back now, something definitely changed, because three days later, I was walking out of an airport in New Zealand by myself with just a backpack.
I am not sitting here writing to you to tell you a novel about all the details of my life; we can save that for another time. What I can tell you right now is that before I stepped onto Kiwi soil, I was a person who put my energy and time into all the wrong things. Things like expensive clothes, luxury cars, and money. I didn’t know the difference between a drinking buddy and a friend. I threw myself into my social and romantic relationships hoping to find worth, and I always came up short. I didn’t know what was north or south, and my mind was cluttered with useless junk.
New Zealand was a chance at a fresh slate. Every step was filled with unknowns, and it was up to me to figure out answers to life’s biggest questions. I don’t need to tell you how scared I was. If you can imagine stepping out into the world for the first time in your life, then you can probably piece together a long list of fears and doubts.
Over the next couple months I found out I was not so weak after all. I made friends, I did all the terrifying adrenaline-boosting activities a human body could subject itself to. Not only did I find some clarity out there on the road, the universe gave me a bonus; it showed me what my passions and gifts were. I learned that I could make a decent film and tell a story that wasn’t awful. These gifts put me in positions to take opportunities beyond my wildest dreams.
I eventually became a filmmaker and photographer, traveling to different destinations and creating digital assets for big brands. Sometimes it would be for a magazine like GQ, sometimes it would be for a person like Hafthor Bjornsson, who starred in Game of Thrones, and sometimes it would be for brands like Aston Martin.
You know what was the most amazing part? When I was living out this chapter of my life, chasing down any and all opportunities, I had nothing but a few outfits in my pack and some newly invested camera equipment. Just enough to create what I needed in order to continue living on the road. Having less allowed me to worry less and focus more on what was important. Before I realized it, I was two or three years into a minimalist lifestyle, and as I started to unpack this, I realized that removing material goods, toxic people, and mental distractions gave me eyes that could see life more clearly. When you hear the word minimalism, you immediately think about objects and items. My truth is that minimalism is more than just getting rid of all the junk in your house; it is removing people who don’t accept you, beliefs that block you from growing. When life is approached this way, it just makes sense to remove material things along the way.
I think a lot of us, when we encounter problems in life, think to add to our lives. We want to purchase things to make us feel good, we want to make more friends or see more places. My peace came from realizing that subtraction was the answer, not addition. Remove what isn’t needed. Declutter your mind and heart, and you will be surprised at the answers you find.
Words by Viktoria Zhulego
Try to count the number of things you own (gadgets, clothes, bags, tablecloths, all the kitchen stuff, papers, different small items you forgot about a long time ago). Now imagine that tomorrow you urgently need to go somewhere far away and forever. Will you take a lot with you? What if you will need to pay $10 for each item you take with you? What percentage of belongings we own do we really need?
Asking these questions, I became literally obsessed with the idea of cleansing my life of everything unnecessary and meaningless, from things to information. Just imagine that you always know exactly where to find the right thing, and there is always some leftover space in the shelves and cabinets. Because you need all the things you own, you remember all of them and know exactly where what lies. Imagine you always know what to wear, because your entire wardrobe consists only of those things you wear and love.
“Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off,” said Coco Chanel. Does this mean that we tend to over-decorate ourselves? Does this mean that more is not better? Does this apply to everything from the wardrobe to our home? Have you noticed that the most stylish and attractive to the eye are those pictures in which prevail only two or three colors, not overloaded with unnecessary details?
Perhaps our brain is too tired of information, including visual information, and therefore the perception of a minimalist picture is easier, more attractive, and brings more pleasure.
I have been asking these questions for a long time, and gradually minimalism has become the credo of my life, where quality means more than quantity. Does this philosophy make my life easier? I definitely became more conscious in every choice and in every action. My life definitely now has more space for the meaningful things, because living a minimal life means constantly making decisions about what is important and what is not. Today, getting rid of unnecessary things brings me more pleasure than acquiring new ones (and I still have something to get rid of). This does not mean that I throw everything away. I just find a new use for it (selling, giving it to those in need).
The true value of a thing is in its purpose—if the thing is needed, you will use it with pleasure, and if it is not used, then someone else may need it.
A Little More of Less
A few other articles we think you might enjoy…
→ 120 Things To Remove From Your Life by Courtney Carver
→ How I Broke Up With My Piano by Rose Lounsbury
→ Thinking Mode vs Doing Mode by Leo Babauta
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