In 1990 I left home with a guitar and pack on my back to work the harvest trail. In the last 27 years I tried “settling down” a few times without success. Even when i was married my ex and I worked and travelled extensively through SE Asia and the Pacific. I have been a traveller, gypsy, nomad, wayfarer, wanderer, vagabond, living on the road most of my adult life.
While walking around Australia, 8 days south of Darwin on the Stuart Highway, I met a guy walking from Stockholm to Sydney. Mats Andren, the-walk.se, calls himself a minimalist vagabond. I called myself an homeless wayfarer and was interested in this new name, minimalist.
“The minimalistic part is the paring down of possessions, un-needed “stuff” that just takes up space, both emotionally and physically. A large part of our modern working week is devoted to caring for our stuff. Paying for it, paying for the place to store it, paying for maintenance, doing the maintenance and looking/longing for new stuff to surround ourselves with.” Mats Andren, the-walk.se, Minimalism
It turned out that this new word was not a new concept for me and minimalism happened to be trending in modern society. I decided to research what others were sharing and how it was changing their lives. It is interesting to see how people all over the world arrive at the similar destinations. I had a lot of time to do this while walking around Australia.
Minimalism is about more than having less.
It is okay to aspire to less but when it starts complicating other parts of your life it is no longer minimalism. However, applying minimalism to other parts of your life can make it less complicated.
Mats and i did not talk at our first meeting about emotional minimalism but I explored it and the intellectual and spiritual levels of reducing the processes of the heart and mind to clear and uncomplicated thought and action.
Ask yourself how minimalism can be applied to to more than just stuff.
Being human, not Vulcan, we over-think and over-react. We fill our thoughts with what-ifs, buts, maybes, reflecting on the past, projecting into the future, even the present is filled with multiple interpretations and imagination.
If we take everything just as it is, before we add conditioned religious, cultural, educational, political layers, life is beautifully simple.
If mindfulness was our natural state we wouldn’t be wasting time thinking about other people’s thoughts and actions, comparing ourselves, wanting more than we need, looking for comfort in the wrong places.
Being in the moment, here and now, is one of the most valuable life skills you will ever learn. Your life is already full of all you need, see what is important, let go of everything else. Through mindfulness we can focus on what is, not on what was or could be. It is a great way to begin applying minimalism to our values.
It is not easy to minimise anything when you first begin. Be gentle, create lists or piles of material, intellectual, emotional, spiritual and psychological things you want to keep, you can discard and things you need to think about some more before making a decision. Keep revisiting your metaphorical and material “unsure” piles until they disappear.
I think you will be surprised by what you don’t really need. I was. There were beliefs, hopes, conflict and bias I had never stopped to question until taking time to self-analyse. When I let go of that extra “stuff” from my heart and mind it felt amazing, replacing all the immaterial clutter with clarity and peace.