I’m not a minimalist. By no stretch of the imagination is anything about my personality minimal, nor have I lived a life that indicates any of the discipline required to say “enough.” Take my workspace as a micro-example of my entire life.
My desk is a perpetual mess; maybe neater than some, but despite its large size, desktop space here is a luxury. By the end of a work week I have accrued at least 8 coffee and tea cups despite feeble attempts to reuse what’s already on my desk. Papers, cables and other miscellany strewn everywhere. I accepted it a while ago. I surrendered to chaos (and weekly cleanings). I know where things are and I know how to get things done in this space, but there’s plenty of friction.
Despite my proclivity for disorder, I have always read Patrick Rhone’s blog Minimal Mac with great fascination, marveling at the clean, empty desktops and tiny computing setups. It’s intriguing to me from an aesthetic standpoint, but also because I correlate these desktops with a peace of mind that I don’t currently possess. It was with this prior interest that I picked up a copy of “Enough,” Patrick’s collection of essays on “the delicate balance between want and need.”
The book opened my eyes to facets of the “minimalist” philosophy that I hadn’t thought about before, and made me reconsider my ability to utilize its tenets. What I found most intriguing was Patrick’s descriptions of the things he finds joy in, such as the act of washing one’s hands with fine soaps. As odd as the examples seemed to me at first, they revealed a patience and mindful consideration that I know very well I need more of in my life.
Growing up, my parents taught me to budget. They taught me and my siblings to be happy with second-hand clothes and not having the latest Trapper Keeper. Not because we were poor–we weren’t–but because my parents believed in “living below their means.” At 17, I left home and promptly rebelled against everything I’d ever been taught.
After a decade on the ocean of excess, my parents helped me get back on my feet and regain my land legs. I was first struck by their compassion and the unconditional love they offered me. Shortly after, I was struck by the understanding that my parent’s financial ability to help me recover from the train wreck of my late teens and early 20’s was due to their ability to recognize “enough.” Patrick’s writing reminds me of the characteristics I admire most in my parents: taking the time to consider every addition to your life, and knowing that saying “yes” to one thing is often saying “no” to something else. I might have had a hard time grasping that as a kid, but I’m learning.
Since finishing “Enough,” I’ve already found myself thinking more carefully about what I really need, and about what’s really important in my life. Looking around my office and my shelves of “toys,” I know I’ve never thought that through very well. It took a book like this for me to internalize what my parents have been saying to me for years. Apparently I need everything in essay form1.
I may never have a hand-hewn wooden desk with nothing but a MacBook Air on it. I could, however, have extra money in the bank and some peace of mind. I might even take the time to enjoy washing my hands. I’d recommend this book to anyone, whether they have an interest in minimalism or not. There’s room in everyone’s life to consider the implications of “Enough.”
Find out more and purchase your own copy at enoughbook.com.
That, and enough time to make mistakes and a little longer to figure out what I learned from them. ↩