Towards a Minimal Lifestyle & an Open Heart

There are many reasons to lead a minimal lifestyle, or at least attempt to. You can google it, find lists of blogs, books, and what have you on why it is the thing to do. On these lists are people who have been jolted, stunned by the discovery of the lack of meaning in their lives, seared by some sort of traumatic experience of loss, or pushed by their precarious financial affairs. Each case is a different reason for pursuing a minimal lifestyle, and yet all have come to the age-old conclusion, less is more.

For me, this pursuit came about simply out of fear. Growing up, I casually collected things like movie stub tickets, stickers, letters, pop CDs, Pokemon cards, TY beanie babies, things like that. And as I went on my path towards being an artist, I collected inspirational material: books, cameras, magazine clippings, museum pamphlets, and so on. None of these collections were huge or compulsive; they were just things I would put aside to keep. Needless to say, I didn’t really have an issue with objects or things in the world.

During my third year of undergrad, I took some time off and spent a month in Taiwan. Half the time I was there, I stayed with my grandpa on his tree farm in the mountains of Nantou County. He had a small and humble house with only the bare necessities, where everything was kept neat and tidy at all times. It was a simple life, though it was far from being simplistic. After getting accustomed to my grandfather’s lifestyle, I went to visit my grandma (they split up in their 70′s). The house was one I frequently visited as a child. It was a two-storied building, with 10-15 rooms on each floor. As a kid, I found it fun to go exploring, but as an adult, I saw it as an empty nightmare. Rooms and rooms filled with antique Chinese beds, desks, and chairs collecting dust on my grandmother’s failed fantasy of one day opening a bed & breakfast joint. She pursued many of these failed fantasies and with each one came more objects. Piles of rocks that would someday be a part of an aquarium, tables and chairs that would someday be a part of a cafe, ceramics, knives, jars, chickens, and all sorts of other materials, all someday to be part of something bigger. The whole house seemed like a miscellaneous drawer, but each thing actually served a particular purpose in her larger scheme of things.

Here, I leave with this page from Christina and Charles (Sparkplug Comics, 2005) by Austin English:

“The tape was saying things like ‘God wants us to think of our hearts like a room. A good heart will let people and ideas and things come in on their own accord, and then let them leave whenever they please. A corrupted heart is a different kind of room: it’s full of cluttered thoughts and ideas and teeming with bodies and the door is locked.’”

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