Jan 272012

If you have been living the happy go lucky carefree life of a minimalist you have probably found that when you leave the warm cozy confines of the Internet and go out amongst the consumers that it’s a dark, cold, and lonely existence out there. Make no mistake about it. Minimalists are in the minority big time. We are, um, minimal in numbers, to say the least. Let’s face facts. Tell somebody you’re a minimalist and they will either roll their eyes and try to change the subject, look at you like you’re batshit insane, or reach in their pockets for some loose change and offer to, “tide you over ’til things get better.”. Well, as you’re stuffing the change in your pocket, (don’t be proud, money is money.), just remember that minimalism ain’t for everybody. Most people simply cannot wrap their little consumerist brains around the fact that you can live quite nicely without the burden of owning tons of stuff. And trying to convert them is about as productive as nailing jello to a wall, nor should you try either.

Beyond this here blog I rarely discuss my minimalist ways out in the real world. For one, I don’t have any friends so that makes it real easy. As for my family it’s simply a waste of time. All my family has grown up in a consumerist culture where you need lots of things to be deemed successful in life. Comfort trumps usefulness. Some of them, who grew up during the Great Depression, (the one about 80 years ago, not the one we are in now), and World War II lived with abject poverty, rationing, and shortages of the basics of life. And they have no desire to go through it again. Can’t say I blame them in the least. They worked hard to obtain that which they now have and deserve to reap the comforts and rewards of their labors. If by chance I happen to get into a conversation with any of them regarding a minimalist lifestyle they assume I am on hard times. They simply cannot fathom how someone would deliberately turn their back on all the comforts and conveniences that our current culture offers. So, to keep peace in the family I steer away from such talks.

As for those few who do tolerate me out side of my family, it’s pretty much useless to even try to describe what minimalism is about. I’ll spend an hour telling them how I’ve reduced all my possessions down to a pack full and they will still ask me if I watched some program on television the other night. Or after telling them I no longer own a car, they want to know when I’m going to drive up for a visit. It simply doesn’t sink in, no matter how big a hammer you use. So, as with family, to keep the peace, I rarely discuss it.

Probably the biggest problem they can’t solve is how I manage to live in Key West, a very expensive place by anybody’s standards. They assume that when you live someplace you will continue to live like you did before. Nice house, car, lots of furniture and possession, etc. So how can you live like that down there? Housing is expensive. Jobs are scarce and low paying. The answer is pretty simple…you can’t. Or at least I couldn’t. In fact most people can’t. The idea of giving up all the creature comforts and trying a completely different lifestyle in a foreign land like the Conch Republic is a risk few are willing to take, especially at my age. If I was trying to maintain my old lifestyle from 10 years ago I’d still be stuck up in Orlando. I’d have lots of stuff, maybe even some money in the bank. But I’d be going to sleep every night wondering what could have been if I had just taken a chance. In my case, I was willing to downsize drastically so I could make the move to someplace I’ve wanted to live for most of my life. I’m quite comfortable and happy without all the extra baggage. And I don’t wonder about what might have been. I wonder what the next adventure will be.

On the other hand I’ve seen some pretty different reactions to the minimalist way of life ranging from envy to downright hatred. If you want to see some interesting reactions go over to Andy Hyde’s blog, which I talked about a couple weeks ago. He was the guy featured with owning just 15 things, (he’s now up to 39). Some of the comments border on threatening. He’s been called a hipster, poser, a fake, and worse. I’m not sure why. He’s leading about as harmless a lifestyle as you could get. And he’s obviously quite happy. And perhaps that’s it. Maybe those making the disparaging remarks are jealous or angry that he is living a life they cannot. Or maybe they just can’t stand the idea of somebody living a life free of all the baggage that they drag through their lives. Whatever it is, it makes no sense. But, haters gonna hate, or something to that effect.

I promote the minimalist lifestyle here on the Fritter. I don’t demand that everyone sell everything, grab a rucksack and say screw it. I don’t proselytize minimalism beyond this here blog. I don’t go round on speaking tours promoting the virtues of minimalism, although for the right price….. You won’t see me riding my bike around the island handing out minimalist tracks like those cult drones for that weird church. I found a lifestyle that agrees with me. It has let me live a much more freestyle life. And it just so happens I enjoy writing about this subject. I had no idea when I started the Fritter if it would take off. 150 visitors a day and growing indicates you want to hear about what I am writing about. And it’s all voluntary. Nobody is being forced to visit here, at least I hope not.

As I’ve said before, minimalism ain’t for everyone. It’s a totally different lifestyle and many people simply aren’t suited to it. Is it a better lifestyle than any other? Of course not. There is no “best” lifestyle. You can’t make that distinction. All I can say is minimalism suits MY lifestyle. And for me, that’s all that counts. And that’s the way it should be for you. Consumerist or minimalist, it doesn’t matter. Start living the way you want to live. Not how others feel you should live. And if minimalism is your choice, welcome to the Manateefritters. You’ve got friends here. You are not alone.

Capt. Fritter

  One Response to “Minimalism…a misunderstood minority…”

  1. i so relate to the family and friends thing… throw into that, being a woman, i am automatically expected to live for shopping (sorry if i offend… but that’s a stereotype because it’s generally true; though i know there are others like me, who hate it, we are the few)… you are not only looked upon with curiosity, but with scorn, as if you are letting down your own sex!
    i used to believe, in my younger stupid days, that there must be something wrong with me. maybe i was cold and austere like they said my “environment” was! i hate knicknacks and frills and ruffles. i have a friend that literally puts a ribbon tied with a bow on everything! i always wonder about the men who live in those kind of houses… i can’t imagine they are that comfortable surrounded by all that. but then, i don’t know and shouldn’t judge, if i don’t want to be judged.
    my husband loved the fact that our decor was sunlight, fresh air, occasional tartan throws to soften and cosy up the place in winter… a fire in the fireplace and a good book… and a glass of wine or ale. we had much laughter and happiness. and it had nothing to do with things!
    i knew you would have a good following! you’re honest to the bone. and fun to read. and …
    very inspirational! i love that you’re ‘supposedly’ poor in paradise!!!
    cheers cap,
    tammy j