Jack of Many Trades

Minimalism in Theory and Practice

Originally posted: 2012-12-01

I like the ideal of minimalism. I very much liked being able to move with just what fit in the car, looking at everything as a sort of devil-may-care adventure up the Pacific coast. I like living in a small apartment. I like getting rid of things I no longer need.

In practice, I like having tools and materials for hobbies that take up a lot of space. I like having big, complex altars. I like working space. I prefer to have things to hand - canvases and paints, paper for my collages, found objects for jewelry, welding equipment for the day I'm able to get back to metal sculpture or forging.

Books are a good example of this dichotomy. I don't have a lot of paper books at this point. About half of the books that I bring home end up cycling back out again - they go back to Powells, or to the Goodwill, or to the library.

My ebook collection, on the other hand, is a little ridiculous. You can't tell, of course, because it doesn't take up space anywhere other than on a couple of hard drives and the cloud. But the other day I went to Manage My Kindle and realized I had four hundred plus books on Amazon, totally separate from my exponentially larger Calibre collection, my RPG books in pdf, or my comic book collection. I have a problem.

It's not that I don't read them, just that I don't read fast enough to justify that rate of acquisition. I have a special weakness for free Kindle downloads, because, well, free. But the world will probably never run out of free ebooks. (And if it does, there's the Archive of Our Own.) There's really no need for me to download things I don't intend to read right now, just add to my To Read pile.

Just because I don't see it doesn't mean it doesn't affect me - this is true of both my ebook library and the metaphysical, isn't it? The trick is to find the right balance without being afraid to take advantage of what you have. Complete minimalism might suggest going without candles and incense and the like, but I'm not interested. At the same time, I don't want an overwhelmingly complex daily practice any more than I want an ebook library that overwhelms me.

Being surrounded, even electronically, with books makes me feel safe. I need to balance nesting instinct, though, to keep from being overwhelmed. It's the same with deities and spirits, really - some contact keeps me on an even keel, too much pushes me off the other side.

So if books are my weak point, dear readers, what's yours? What do you find yourself indulging in even when you know it's too much?