The Minimalists Aren’t Bullshit

12.12.11

 

I’ve had the esteemed pleasure to host Josh and Ryan of The Minimalists as they passed through San Diego on their Minimalist 33 city tour. Seeing as the warehouse is the ideal crashpad, it only makes sense to keep a revolving door policy. 

 

In an era where cynicism is the new black, it’s easy to be critical of two white middle class guys from the heartland talking and writing about living a more meaningful life with less stuff.  But don’t be fooled by Josh’s high cheekbone smile and Ryan’s bear hugging ability, these lads have been down some of life’s valleys. More importantly though, they’ve emerged with a clarity and kindness that is only magnified by their sincerity. These guys aren’t bullshit.

 

Josh and Ryan write about minimalism in a thoughtful, but digestible way. They advocate simplicity in order to live a more meaningful life, and hardly a person can be against that. The unique thing about these guys is that they understand that they don’t have all the answers, but rather they know what has worked for them and simply share that with others. I’m not here to say everything they write is gold. It isn’t. But they do have an earnestness about them that can be clouded by the facade that pixels and digital noise can bring. But again, make no mistake, these guys have heart and they will be doing some golden age defining work.

 

I look forward to seeing them dig a bit deeper into their own narrative with this next chapter of life unfolding and a new year upon us. They have the personal stories to match any old blues man and his harp, though their execution of themes tends to be more word-driven, and bit less musical.

 

Mark Twain said, “my books are like water; those of the great geniuses are wine. Fortunately everybody drinks water.” Josh and Ryan deliver a message of water, but I know they’ve got some wine coming. If you’re a critically thinking person, you’ve likely already found the benefits of minimalism. And not just physically, but mentally too. If you read their essays now and feel you’ve reached your clarity, get ready to go a bit deeper. I hope they take us there. I now believe they can. 

 

I also snagged a copy of their latest book, which I will review in the upcoming weeks. Stay tuned!

 
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  • I wound up dropping their feed when I was trying to minimalize the number of RSS feeds I subscribe to. It was shortly after they start, so they hadn’t come into their own yet. If they are starting to pick up I’ll definitely give them another go.

    Charlie, that’s precisely my point. It’s not even that they have come into their own fully… I believe they will (or at least can) do some far greater things.

    So far it’s been a far reaching message because most people had never considered such a radical notion (consume less, focus on what is meaningful). For those in the know (you for example), why drink water when you can look for wine? I get that. Only time will tell us, but I’m hopeful and expectant!

    consider this for a moment…

    “With the ant-heap the respectable race of ants began and with the ant-heap they will probably end, which does the greatest credit to their perseverance and good sense. But man is a frivolous and incongruous creature, and perhaps, like a chess player, loves the process of the game, not the end of it. And who knows (there is no saying with certainty), perhaps the only goal on earth to which mankind is striving lies in this incessant process of attaining, in other words, in life itself, and not in the thing to be attained, which must always be expressed as a formula, as positive as twice two makes four, and such positiveness is not life, gentlemen, but is the beginning of death.”

    Dostoyevsky, Notes from the Underground

    In conversation with a friend the other day, I mentioned that i felt that my creative process had begun to resemble shopping. I found that I continually needed a new creation. A better piece of art to come from my hands. Something to put on display. This could easily have been a television or an appliance. The distinction collapsed. Dostoyevsky wouldn’t even make a distinction between creation and shopping. He would agree that attaining life or art, over goods and services, is still an act of attaining. Perhaps, it’s foolish to think that attaining life or creating art is a particularly notable acheivement. You’re very simply a different kind of monster facing the same sort of dying.

    Perhaps, if you want to have a home with 57,000 square feet and antique european everything or live as a minimalist in a warehouse, the only thing worth doing is dying triumphantly.

    Matty, thanks for this impressive input. I knew I enjoyed Dostoevsky for a reason…

    I’ve recently had a similar epiphany. My desire for stuff has been hugely curbed, but my desire to collect experiences and creative outputs has increased. I don’t mind so much, but it does put me as a consumer still, albeit more meaningfully.

    As for dying triumphantly, that seems like a fools wager to me, but then again I agree with that sentiment. Quite Hemingway-esque I suppose, but it’s dignity and courage and all that jazz that seems to be how I want to go.

    @Matty

    This line of thought has been going through my head for the past year as I try to figure out where to go and what to do once I leave the corporate world. Am I a minimalist just because I am rejecting the corporate world? Am I just replacing things with experiences?

    This is all dependent on how the person takes in their experiences. I see so many people who live their lives through the live view on their camera. I’ve been there. I became cognoscente of the behavior and took action to escape this practice.

    We’ll never see how far the ripples of our actions travel, that shouldn’t stop us from making a splash.Besides, who’s to say we can’t be beautiful monsters?

    Charlie, I’ve written previously on that subject of living through the viewfinder. It can be part of the quest to collect or at least say ‘I’ve been there’.

    As for beautiful monsters, I can jive with that. Check out this fresh piece from Mark Robertson for a take on beautiful monsters, depression, etc.

    http://www.mdrobertson.com/depression/

    I knew I had read more on it recently. I don’t mind the idea of curios, and little things to remember the adventure. They have a deeper meaning when they are something tactile, and not something generic from a gift shop.

    That is a glorious post on the beautiful monster. Too often is depression vilified, chained and repressed. I like the allusion to it being a kiln to forge a greater self.

    It was wonderful meeting Ryan and Josh. They are very awesome guys and great house guests too. I am new to the minimalism idea or movement. It was great to attend the meet-up to learn it’s positive affects in so many people around you. I love their carefree attitudes. They are not trying to impress anyone and pretend that minimalism is some fancy car or diamond ring. They simply do it because it makes them happen. If anything it made me ponder my own life and the changed that I can make that can make me happier. It never hurts to be happy!

    Thanks for stopping by San Diego!!

    Meg, thanks for being so kind and flexible while they were here! I know it can get chaotic with tight schedules, but it all worked out perfectly! :)

    13 Dec 2011, 5:01pm
    by Annie André

    reply

    Looking forward to the review. And I like your revolving door policy. Last year when we were living semi nomadically we couch surfed staying with total strangers. It was amazing.

    Ah yes Annie, we have had many a couch surfer crash the pad here. It’s a great way to travel without traveling!

    [...] The Minimalists Aren’t Bullshit (at Almost Bohemian) [...]

    Nice to see this! One of the things I love most about Josh & Ryan is that they are genuinely living what they preach. I’ve seen it several times, and am always pleased to see others discovering and discussing them.

    I, too, expect more to come from these two!

    Jackie

    i think your place would be one of the coolest places to crash!!

    [...] we had to pay for only one motel. All other nights we stayed with some amazing people—like David and Meg in San Diego, Derek and Carrie in Kansas City, and many other cool people who took us in [...]

    it’s so cool that you met them!! they seem like nice people (i know, so generic).. and i’ll say it again, would love to crash at the warehouse!

    Janet, they are some damn good guys. Highly recommend hitting up with them! Sadly, the warehouse days are left behind, but my friend took it over so if you need a spot in San Diego, just let me know. Otherwise, my home is always the home for any weary traveler.

    Josh and Ryan strike me as a couple of down-to-earth, genuine guys. Reading their back-story convinced me to give minimalism a try.

    As with most ideas that lead to a happier, fulfilled life, minimalist ideas are astoundingly simple. Most cynics are the sort who expect the solution to life’s troubles to be complex and sophisticated.

    They are disappointed when minimalists like Josh and Ryan advocate simplification as a remedy to some of life’s greatest challenges.

    Keep doing the good work, Josh and Ryan.

     

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