I’ve been thinking about what kind of book I want to write next, as I have several themes in my head that are clamoring for expression. I recently spent a weekend in the reclusive seaside town of Cedar Key, Florida, and then I saw the article below about the Diderot Effect. These seemingly unrelated incidents were enough to spark my interest in the topic of “minimalism.”
I have been interested in this topic, and in this way of living, for many years now, probably ever since I read the famous book, Walden, by Henry David Thoreau, a man I would consider the “Godfather” of Minimalism. I read his book some 30 years ago, and not long after that, I embarked on my own version of minimalism when I joined the U.S. Peace Corps, spending a little over two years in the very poor country of Paraguay, South America.
While not as primitive as Thoreau’s time spent at Walden Pond in the mid-1800s, it felt pretty close. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that I was living more closely to Thoreau’s lifestyle than I was to Americans’ lifestyle in the 1990s, which is when I lived in Paraguay.
Ever since I returned from South America, I have fallen into the trap that most Americans do, living a consumerist, materialistic lifestyle. I know that I am not as bad as most people (our main TV is the same 32-inch model we’ve had for more than 10 years, for example), but I am constantly bothered by my own consumerist habits, even by my own standards. The pull to get “more stuff” is neverending, and the temptations are ever-present.
I’ve recently realized a very sad reality about our consumerist and materialistic way of life here in America. I’ve realized that we not only consume far too many material goods—filling our homes, garages, and storage units with things we use a handful of times at best—but we also fill our stomachs with excessive junk, we fill our time with pointless activities, and we fill our heads with worthless content found on social media, old media, and television.
Before I fill this brief article with too many words, I will end this discussion..for now. If this topic interests you, however, keep an eye out here and on my social media pages for more in the coming weeks and months as I try to hunker down and write this little book.
In the meantime, check out this article on the Becoming Minimalist website that explains one of the reasons for our consumerist mindset, the Diderot Effect.
My initial advice to each of you (and myself) as I begin diving into this topic, is to pay more attention to the tricks our minds play on us that lead us into the temptations of “more stuff.”