I have a few friends that like the minimalistic lifestyle. Believe it or not so do I. Obviously if you looked into my office, you would go “Oh My God, you are a hoarder”. I don’t deny that at all, but at some point there is a difference between artifacts and “stuff”.
Let’s get some things clear. There are items I own that can be considered stuff. It is stuff I love, old video games, a couple ancient computers that I acquired later in life, game systems, Lego, and books. Fair enough this is all stuff. It’s stuff that maintains my sanity. Not all of that “stuff” is “stuff”. Some of the items are artifacts. The bulk of it is stuff though, so it gets lumped in.
Now let’s look at artifacts. I have my first teddy bear, LPs that are scratched up – but they were scratched be me before I was 6, a centerpiece from my prom, and hundreds of knick-knacks that I could write personal memories about. How do you separate those things?
You see a figure of Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. I see a birthday gift given to me on my sixteenth birthday and the mascot of my only entry into the crazy craft race in Vermilion. He was tied to the front of the boat and we won second place in creative design.
The tucked away in a tote with ancient writing that spans three and half decades of my writing – there is a small container with my baby teeth. Did I save them? No, but they were given to me for some reason when I turned 18. I thought about throwing them away, because it is a bit creepy. However they are a part (or were a part) of me. There is a reason they are tucked away in a tote and not on display – because again, creepy.
My minimalistic friends would throw away all of their artifacts. They want to live lean and nimble. I can assure you that everything I would need in this world would fit in one car. This is my threshold – if it can’t fit in a single car then it’s too much. Granted my IROC doesn’t run and I can’t part with it – so it borders stuff and artifact. If it was running though, all my important things could fit into it with 1-2 passengers beyond myself.
My office and my wife’s library are starkly different. My office is organized madness with artifacts showing my mind in an open way. Her room is stark, where the clutter is books piled here and there. It looks nice and she needs a meditative place to work. I on the other hand need inspiration around me. They are triggers that put me into the right space.
Neither is right or wrong. While I won’t lie and say my room is always organized – it isn’t. Funny enough it’s my actual work and temporary things that cause the mess. It’s rarely my stuff or artifacts. Those almost always have a place.
I’m writing this as I’ve been working on reorganizing my office. Toys are being hung on the wall and moved from shelves. This is more because I need the shelf space. The shelves are/were too cluttered. However as you enter my room it looks like pop culture vomited over everything. It’s only going to get worse for some (better for me). I don’t want to look at a single spot in my office and be uninspired.
What is my point in all this? Well, the things I own are an extension of me. There are all things I can regale tales about, in fact I have thought about trying to write about everything in my office. There are so many anecdotes and to write about and so little time. I don’t go out and buy the latest action figures – all in compared to most geeks I buy very little stuff. The goal is to razor sharpen what I own to be more “me”.
It’s not about who owns the most, it’s about what you own that defines you in the best proper way. Not in the way to impress others, not in who has the most toys, not in the way of owning it just because – the stuff you own should make you a better you. That makes it artifacts and not stuff. If it’s not important, then is nothing more than stuff. Don’t be minimalistic for the sake of being minimalistic, be who you are and be defined by that which surrounds you.