The inadvertent minimalist

Last weekend we caught up with a friend that we haven’t seen for a couple of years as he’s been touring the world as part of a circus group.  

It was so refreshing to speak to someone who had escaped the daily grind and hear some fun stories. 


Inadvertently the conversation turned to our favourite topic: minimalism. 


He has been touring for the past two years with just a suitcase and rucksack. The only other possessions he has are stored in three boxes at his parents’ house. 


Without any prompting (remember we’re secret minimalists!) he pointed out that he hadn’t opened or even seen those boxes in years and wondered whether they actually matter to him? The only things that he really needs are in his luggage which he has to transport so decision on new purchases are very important – a kindred spirit who was saying all the things that I think.


For example, he saw a pair of shoes that he really liked. The fact that he only has limited space forced him to decide how much he actually needed them, in the end they weren’t worthy of taking up valuable space in his suitcase so they remained unbought. 


I liked this guy a lot before but seeing him put into action minimalists principles made me like him even more!


Now our friend is living what many of us crave, a life without things and with no possessions to worry about. I have to admit I enjoyed the conversation and was inspired but also a little bit envious. He has worked hard and is very talented but I wanted a piece of that life too. He had so many stories to tell and I felt like this minimalist nomad had got life nailed.


However, towards the end of our time together he also let us know about his future plans. 


After much travelling around the globe he will be returning home and setting up a life for him and his girlfriend. This was when his eyes really lit up as he was able to tell us about how good it will be to have a place to call home. 


Our friend wasn’t talking about buying big sofas or filling his new home with stuff, the thing that excited him was having a place to relax with loved ones. 


At the moment he is living an extreme minimalist life but that is imposed on him by his job as opposed to being a conscious choice, though the time away has been positive as it made him realise having stuff doesn’t really matter.


As I reflected on this it put my initial envy in perspective. We all want to be as minimal as possible but when you go to extreme levels (forced or intended) you may lose focus on why you wanted to be minimal in the first place – to be free of stuff that gets in the way of life and the people that matter.


My friend helped me realise this point, minimalism is an important part of my life now but I must always remember the reason why I turned to it in the first place.


4 thoughts on “The inadvertent minimalist

  1. It sounds perfect to me. I always say that when I’m away on holiday I don’t really miss any of my posessions at home (and I don’t have that many). It must be the same mindset for your friend.


  2. “We all want to be as minimal as possible but when you go to extreme levels (forced or intended) you may lose focus on why you wanted to be minimal in the first place”

    What a great line! And a fantastic reminder to not get too carried away. I think there does come a point in minimalism where you have to decide if you’re giving things away because you really don’t need them or if you’re trying to keep up with the minimalist Joneses.

    And I totally hear you on feeling envious of nomadic friends. A couple of college friends just sold everything and moved to Korea to teach English. It was tough to watch them go on an adventure while I stay in suburbia. But we all have different paths. Luckily, minimalism is flexible for each one!

    Liked by 1 person

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