Friday, May 31, 2013

What's In Your Wallet?

After reading Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You I was reminded how what we carry on our person speaks volumes about us. And what is more personal than our wallets? As for me, I carried a bulky Rolf organizer wallet for 20 years before switching to the much more minimalist one I carry today. My old one included several card slots as well as space for my checkbook, calendar, cash, notepad and mileage log. Needless to say I freaked out the handful of times that I misplaced, but fortunately never lost, my leather lifeline.

Once I became a minimalist I traded my walloping wallet for a simple card case handmade in New Hampshire by Osgoode Marley that I got in a cool leather goods shop when I lived on the island of Nantucket. All it contains are my driver’s license, library card, AAA card, Sams Club card, credit card, debit card, couple of cash cards and cash. It is as light as a feather and I love it. In the words of that ubiquitous, if slightly annoying, credit card commercial: What’s in your wallet?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Moveable Feast

Whether we realize it or not we have all become conditioned by our consumerist culture to want more stuff, even though we rarely need it. And the remedy to this condition is to learn a new language, the language of less. Stuff is less likely to clutter our lives if we strive to limit its accumulation in the first place.

Asked how much consumer culture contributes to clutter, Marilyn Paul, author of It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys,” said she believed advertising’s natural outgrowth, consumption, is part of many people’s problem. “The more stuff you’ve got, the more skillful you have to be in managing it,” she said. Paul also noted that “clot” is the root of the word “clutter.”

In 1900 the average Westerner wanted 27 different things, and considered 18 of them essential to happiness. Today the average Westerner wants 500 things, and considers 100 of them essential to happiness. Greed has many faces but it speaks one language: the language of more.

The average three-bedroom house contains approximately 350,000 items. Meanwhile, the average person spends between six and seven hours a week looking for misplaced items. That translates into 312 hours a year, which amounts to 13 complete days, or almost two full weeks out of one’s life.

Two years ago today my wife and I moved out of our dream home with the proverbial white picket fence to pursue a new dream of a location-independent lifestyle and it has been even more fun than we ever dreamed. Living with less stuff has enabled us to experience life as a moveable feast and we are enjoying the menu.