My Whole Life is Worth $258

I’m tired of everything that ever added up to me so I just threw out everything I ever owned since I was five years old.   Clothes, books, comic books, notepad after notepad, a play I wrote in second grade, pseudo-intellectual novels I wrote when I was 18, love notes to women who are dead, business cards from meetings nobody cared about, and on and on. They were stored in boxes in my ex-wife’s house. An entire basement and an entire attic filled with them. Even suits. Me in a suit! There might even have been a tuxedo in there.

I threw it all today.

It was 700 lbs. and at 18 cents a pound plus the cost of labor the whole thing cost me $258 to throw out at the local disposal place.

Now if I can throw out the memories of the girls who have cheated on me, the businesses that have failed, the unfair insults that have been thrown my way I would gladly pay another $258. I might even be willing to pay a thousand times more than that. It would be priceless for me to throw that crap out.

Minimalism is not about the clutter, the half-eaten potato chips, the ripped book of not-read poetry, you have lying on your desk. It’s about the sticks and stones that you have lying in your head, in spider-webbed corners you forgot existed. But they hurt. And when even come close to peering through the webs at that corner you often get angry, irritated, lash out at those close to you for no reason. Or, at least I do. Lots of lashing. And irritation.

Every day, you can almost do a “daily practice of minimalism”:

  1. Throw out a physical item. Even just one.
  2. Throw out an emotional burden. Someone who drags you down, some ancient event you are still angry about, some future worry that probably has little chance of happening.
  3. Throw out a mental burden. A goal, for instance, that you don’t really need to achieve to be happy. Why turn a reasonable worry into an overbearing anxiety? Throw it out!
  4. Throw out a spiritual burden. Sometimes even the quest for happiness can be a burden. Even that can be a stressful journey. It’s ok to feel exactly how you feel today without putting additional pressure on it.

Just throw out one thing a day of the above. That’s all. Use to track it if you want. What did you throw out each day? One thing a day adds up.

Here’s a story:

A wise master and his student. The student lives far away and writes monthly updates on his progress towards enlightenment.

The first letter: “I see visions of heaven. I’m lifted by angels, I feel light like I can fly. I can see the whole world.”

The master grumbles and rips up the letter.

The next letter a month later. “I’ve seen all the universes. I’ve created worlds. I’ve seen the inside of myself.”

The master grumbles and rips the letter into even tinier shreds.

The next letter from the student: “I’ve sat in meditation for one month straight without eating. My mind is an empty sea. I can see everyone’s aura. I see the whole past and the whole future in this single instant.”

The master says to nobody in particular, “this is shit.” And puts the letter in his paper shredder. The master gets lots of letters from students.

Six months go by and no letter from the student. Finally the master, curious about an update, writes the student and asks what’s going on.

The student writes back a letter: “Who cares!?”

Finally, the master smiles.

That’s minimalism.

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