May 6, 2007 2:56am
A minute ago I was brushing my teeth after helping move my boyfriend from one dorm room to another. As always, it was a lot of work, and he expressed the same thoughts as many college kids do these days (as is evident by the amount of usable items one can find in the trash on moving day). He said, “Tonight I realized how much shit I actually have.”
I came to the same conclusion when it came time to move my stuff from my dorm room into my first apartment. I had been moving in slowly for a few weeks already and invited my parents up to help me finish things up and to see my new place. I thought I just had a few things left over to move, but it ended up being, you know, a whole lot of shit. Shit I didn’t realize I even had. Shit I didn’t really need. But once I saw it, shit I new I couldn’t part with. So as I am brushing my teeth I make a connection. This summer is going to be an experiment in minimalism.
I am in a new home; I have just finished a year of school that marks my halfway point through college. I feel I have grown so much in the past two years. I feel like I have been a sponge absorbing information: from reading, from watching people, from talking to people, from library videos. Now, I feel like I have absorbed enough information so that I am ready for some big changes in my life. I don’t want to be materialistic in the least. I already buy all of my clothes at thrift stores or come across them for free; I am not a mall go-er. I tried to work in a mall store recently and could barely stand it for two weeks before abruptly quitting.
But this morning I woke up, looked around my bedroom and felt cramped in all of my stuff – and guilty for it. This summer things are going to change, but junk and stuff isn’t the only part. I am going to change my surroundings, but I am also going to change my body. It too is going to go through a minimalist summer (and beyond). I am going to try my best to eat raw foods only. I am going to record daily as best I can a food and activity log. I am going to be riding my bike about 3 miles to school and work (school library) every day and shopping at the nearby flea market for locally grown produce for my meals. I will record how I feel each day and note changes in my moods, feelings, digestion, sleep, energy levels, and physical appearance. I will also record any interesting outside influences I encounter during this summer. Tonight I finish with the lyrics to The Broadways song “25 Degrees North":
"My friend gave everything he owns away
and my friend says he's happier that way.
He says, 'Did you ever notice the more you own,
the more worries you have?'
I thought about my rent check and my bank account
and couldn't help but understand.
He told me that he's going back to Santa Cruz to live on a boat
without a phone or a thing in his hands,
and I'm staying in Chicago to work and go to school
and fuck off with my shitty fucking band.
And he said, "Brendan you should try it. It makes you feel so good.
Brendan you should try it, it makes you feel so good."
So I threw away a stereo and some clothes to show I understood.
Down on the gold coast the people look so happy.
Money gets you laid, I saw it on tv.
A brand new car, vcr, a satellite dish,
and a 6 pack are just a few parts of this American dream.
Well my friend had a dream to be free.
He made it come true by giving away his tv.
Yeah my friend had a dream to be free.
He made it come true with a backpack and his feet.
When I walk along the city streets no one smiles or talks to me.
I've seen possessions that run people's lives.
Everything we own makes us afraid to be friends,
sharing used to be natural, it'll never be that way again.
My friend relearned to be a human being,
how to stop and talk to people on the streets.
He gave everything he owns away,
and lives his dream with a backpack and his feet."
When I look around my room now, I think of how hard this is going to be. Mostly because of the things I have that have sentimental value or things I can see myself using in the future… just not right now, or things that are just pretty to look at. But I have noticed that some things I have give me a bad feeling when I see them. It’s a sort of guilty feeling. It’s very subtle, and I only realize it when I think about it. And it does feel good to put it in the give-away pile. For now I just tell myself everything will find a home somewhere: just not with me. I want to be free. More tomorrow.