Minimalist on the go

I have always wanted a simple life that fills with memories and stories, which I can treasure no matter where I am. However, while accumulating memories I have also accumulated too many objects around myself.

We live in a consumer world. Buying things has becomes the easiest, fastest way to solve problems. If a watch is broken, we buy a new watch. If a plate is chipped, we buy a new plate. Buying a new thing has become way faster than repairing the broken ones. However, not too many of us are big “givers,” we all thought that once we have time we will fix everything. Therefore, there are things coming through the door, but there is hardly anything going out of the door. The amount of stuff simply gets bigger and bigger years after years.

I was not an exception. I treasure memories that associated with the items I own, and I buy things in order to make friends. Four years in college, I accumulated 25+ boxes of books and 500+ CD. Longing to make friends in this foreign country but barring by the language ability, I turned into books and music which not only comfort me but also make me look like I “fit in” this society. I dreamed that someone would appreciate my taste of books and music, and I would start making some friends from there. To me, buying books and CDs was the solution to fix my problem. And I was a books/CDs hoarder.

Now I think of it, I really should have gone out and tried to meet more new people. Opened my heart and listened to what other people are talking about, interested about. That, might be a better solution than buying things and hoping someone will secretly notice how unique I am based on what I read and listen.

My observation about people around me proves my point. People now are a lot less welling to sit down and figure out the problem, especially abstract problems. One of my family friends channelled her energy towards buying designer items after splitting with her husband, and she spent $14000/month on stuffing her closet; one of my family members buys a new piece of furniture almost daily after retiring. The feeling of emptiness in their heart makes their mind unease and makes their life clotted.

So how should we confront with our problems more directly? How to stay calm and see the answer? These are questions too big to answer, but I have couple thoughts:

1. One strong core.

One thing I learn from doing Yoga is no matter how complicated the poses are, you need to have a strong core. Core, doesn’t necessary mean abdominal muscles here, but a sense of stability. If your legs are wabbly, you will never be able to crescent lunge with a back bend; if your abdominal muscles are weak, you won’t be able to do head stands; if your mind is not focused, you won’t feel the flow. Start from one little thing and make it strong, then once the sense of stability sink in you will feel impenetrable. Then gradually you will build a solid base for yourself to climb higher, live better, feel nicer.

2. One Focus.

Since little, my parents always tell me that I need to focus on what I am doing. However, they gave me too many tasks at once to focus on: I need to focus in piano lessons, cello lessons, dance classes, exam studies, abacus calculation classes, calligraphy classes and Go classes. My concentration is always the target for blame when my grades are not as good as expected. This has a huge impact on my life: I have always had a guilty feeling when my mind wonders while doing works, but I never analyze the reasons. I would force myself to focus, again and again, by drinking coffee or bribing myself, and it makes me feel frustrated about myself.

Ironically, when I first decided to get rid of all my “focuses,” it was the first time that I feel finally I fortified the quality and duration of my focus. It’s better to only live in the present: don’t think about what you are going to do the next hour or tonight, but instead, focus on the thing you are working on right now. You will find it more gratifying than longing for a better future. One thing at a time, even in your mind.

3. One ending.

I tend to be very creative and easily excited by new ideas. That say, it is easy for me to start something but hard for me to end it well. A perfect chinese to describe me: 虎頭蛇尾.

To avoid this, it takes some disciplines. I have to set a clear goal in everything I started, and only if I reach that goal I can move on to something new. This makes me really focus during work (because I want to do always do new things and get rid of old ones) and keep me efficient.

4. One Person

“Everyone is an island.” Even though I like the movie “About A Boy(where this phrase is from),” I still feel deep down there is solitude in every human’s existence. In order to have a simple life, we need to be able to be comfortably alone. A strong mind will not need others’ approvals but rather rely on self-reflection. I am not saying you should be stubborn, but rather you need to talk to yourself and understand yourself before searching for others’ advice. The truth is, deep down in your heart you know what you are searching for and what’s that you want. It is important to give yourself some time and energy to talk to yourself. Admit your true intention.

5. Simplicity.

De-cluttering my life/trim down my belongings is probably the best thing I have ever done to myself. Once I have a deeper understand about what my basic needs are, the essential stands out from the rest of the stuff. I did have a hard time when going through the cloth, therefor me and N decided to use a “suitcase” method: each of us took one suitcase and packed 2 weeks of cloth in it , and then started living with only the cloth from the suitcase. It helped me decipher what are the ones I really wear and what are the ones I only wear in my imagination. Of course, the later ones goes to donation or consignment stores.

To me, the best thing about decluttering is regaining the space around myself. I feel ignited by the air around me, and I feel calm and strong. I do not need all the materials to help me to live as I wanted; and I do finally feel like I am part of the world because I know who I am. That feeling is great.


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