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Rationalist Minimalism

·1017 words·5 mins·
Minimalism Christianity
Joshua Blais
Joshua Blais
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Over the past month, I have paired down substantially the things that I own.

My closet now only holds the essential clothing, anything that was old, didn’t fit, or I didn’t enjoy wearing got donated.

My office, once holding an 18u server rack loaded with networking equipment and computers is no longer a cluttered zone.

We have gotten rid of many things that my daughter no longer fits or uses.

Furniture, boxes of old stuff, it has all been fair game.

What you own begins to own you

It has been apparent to me that the many things that we own are too often shackles to a life we didn’t even ask for. Things that lock us to our current situations, geographical locations, and in my case, holding my family back from realizing our long-talked about dreams.

Worse, many of us purchase things to numb the existence that we live - and to this phenomenon I am no stranger:

I have been in the real estate industry since 2016, and it is an island wrought with materialism, one-uppmanship, and people that are focused on themselves. Not all real estate professionals, but a sizeable proportion. I, too, thought I had to play the game. I bought the BMW, I wore the suits. I made the money, and lo and behold, it didn’t do anything. It didn’t make me feel anything.

I know from seeing it firsthand that this brings no peace, no fulfillment. Its a perpetual climb, a game where you will always find someone with “more”, and then, naturally, you will feel lesser than. It is the symptom of the system, and if it weren’t this way, who would buy the iPhone 82?

But it is not only real estate, or banking, or fashion, this is apparent in everyplace that humans congregate and make money - and the technology sector is no better. People chasing the latest and greatest and act as if obtaining these things make them better than anyone else.

I get that the term “minimalism” is a meme by this point, and I would not define myself as such; Alas from the outside looking in, it will appear that that is precisely what I am.

The thing is - in many things I am a maximalist - in seeking connection, in creativity, in living a life for God.

I found that the things just get in the way.

That is by design; buy a nice car, care about not scratching it, get it serviced every 5000 miles, heck, don’t even remove the protective plastic on the side pannels. People buy tools then they don’t even use them to keep them in pristine condition. As if a hammer is measured by how clean it is, rather than how many homes it has helped build.

The things we own begin to own us, they begin to dictate our lives, and how can we up and leave a bad situation when we have a couch, a coffee table and silverware?

What becomes easy to see is that which matters when you begin to strip away that which does not. And, for me, that has been everything that I previously owned that I thought at one time in my life made me “accomplished”, or had “made it.”

I had barely scratched the surface, and I was actually killing myself, my sanity, my future, for shiny objects.

People so often think in terms of dollars and cents what something costs, but seldom do they think about the cost in time, in mental capacity, and the costs to the truly important things in life when they go buy the new flatscreen.

Fulfillment in Higher Order

When you start to seek for that which is real, the Truth you start to find that reality actually lies in the transcendent.

It is not in the “four walls” around you (materialism breaks down at the quantum level), it is not in anything that is false, and it certainly is not in your own mind (though we are getting closer to reality when we see that which is within our mind as the “most true” application to our lives).

Reality is in God, in all that is Good, in Truth.

But, we won’t find that which is everlasting if we are seeking that which is in front of our nose, in the things that people believe that matter.

There are people that own 100 pairs of shoes, but why? You have but one pair of feet.

There are people that own 10 cars, but why? You can only go one place at a time.

There are people that have so much, yet feel so worthless, so empty - and I would posit that it is because they have all of the “wrong stuff” - they have focused on that which they can see and touch and smell and taste, and that stuff fades away.

Just as all things that are impermanent do.

The only lasting things are not things at all.

The things that last are the higher order values of love, of creativity, of purpose, of seeking to please God above all men. These are the things that are forevermore, the things that actually matter.

The irony of the word “matter” and that “matter in a scientific sense” are so contradictory is not lost on me.

If you live a life that is only concerned with that which is right in front of you, you will always be seeking for something that can never be found. Because for every single one of us, for those that are seeking to be true human beings, the answer will always be in that which cannot be seen but that which can be felt, experienced, and sought only when we understand who and what we really are.

No object, no new tech, no shiny watch, no new car or house or boat or airplane or skyscaper, or island will fill the hole.

But it certainly serves the world for you to try to obtain it.

And the world was always going to be never enough.