I’ve always been a sort-of minimalist, doing it more by happenstance than with an on-purpose manner of living. That changed this summer when I met the modern fathers of the minimalist movement Joshua Becker, Joshua Fields Milburn, and Ryan Nicodemus at the World Domination Summit in Portland OR. I learned a lot, not just about how to become minimalist, but also about the benefits of that lifestyle.
Becker’s story really resonated with me because he’s in a similar position in life as me with a house, a wife, and kids. Minimalism looks very different when you’re single versus when you have a family. Becker talked about embarking in the lifestyle after a garage cleaning epiphany where he really truly realized the cliche that instead of owning his stuff it owned him.
This came to light with me recently in my own neighborhood. I’ve been complaining to my HOA about people parking on the sidewalks. They actually have a rule against it, so I asked them to enforce the rule. My big beef with it is that for my kids to ride around the neighborhood they have to dart out into the road a gazillion times to ride around cars on the sidewalks. It’s dangerous. Their official answer to me was that they can’t force people to clean out their garages to make room for their cars.
This struck me on several levels…
- People have too much stuff in their garages. Seriously, when you clean your garage, don’t you sometimes find stuff you forgot that you had?
- Many people have more car than they need. These days people act like every person in a house needs their own car.
- My HOA sucks (as do most). The selectively enforce rules on people they don’t like and ignore others.
The moral lesson to this story is this…if you’d like to make a move toward a more minimalist lifestyle, the garage is probably the single best place to start.