Sunday, 17 May 2015

In Praise of the Minimum.

I have for some years circled the flame of minimalism. I played a little with the idea of the green life. This did not work well for me- mainly because the marketers got there first and turned 'green' into a designer brand.

In any case I was not trying to save the world (which would be nice). I was seeking the authentic life. A life when one bought things because they were useful rather than to take an Instagram photograph of one buying it.

It is hard to be authentically green these days. We all carry a little demon on our shoulder that tells us to play to the audience- to do things for appearance and not because they need to be done.

Once we have recycled our newspapers for a week or two it becomes an obligation. All of the (imaginary) people who are so impressed by our civic mindedness become our accusers. This entire circus exists only in our own heads. We fake political correctness because everyone else is politically correct. It never occurs to us that these people are faking it too and they would heave a sigh of relief if we could only be honest.

The next phase of my journey was the 'gentleman prepper' concept which I still believe in. This takes the most useful aspects of the prepping community and wraps them up in tweed. Prepping could be a useful way to spend a weekend in the country learning about first aid and edible fungi. The gentleman prepper combines self reliance with a social attitude. Rather than becoming the scary man on the hill that mothers warn their children about he is the go-to person in any emergency.

The gentleman prepper would has little in the way of stored food or James Bond gadgets (so there is little reason to rob him) but he would be the man everyone wants on his team. This lifestyle is actually more green than that of the average Friend of the Earth because he is a doer and not a talker. He would rather grow his own vegetables than drive across the country to a demonstration he barely understands. The gentleman prepper is not motivated by shame or obligation. He is motivated by a desire to protect those he loves.

I wish to get away from obligations- or rather I wish to escape from my ego and all of its foolish stories. Genuine obligations such as treating others with kindness come from a different place.

I realize that my journey has always been towards minimalism. I wish to live a simple life, but a comfortable one. I wish to have few possessions, but good ones.

Being free of ego sets one free from materialism. This has nothing to do with living as a hermit in a cave (this can be yet another form of showing off). It means one buys things for the pleasure they bring rather than how they make us seem to others.

My own journey to the minimal will be gradual. Many people on this path empty their homes of excess possessions by hiring a pick-up truck to take them away.

Quite honestly I am not that rich.

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