There always seems to be too much going on in the fall, let alone December, to have adequate time to reflect introspectively on the year and then make resolutions on what you intend to fix in the new year. It’s rush, rush, rush, think a minute, proclaim something, fireworks are going off and before you know it, you really wake up and it’s the middle of January. The first month of the new year comes with abrupt, quiet calm, fitness ads, and a relative absentia of events that I wonder why people bother trying to hit an annual deadline.
Any day is a good day to make changes, especially after you’ve had time to really consider what you’re changing and why. With that in mind, this year I’m going to not buy anything that isn’t consumable, required for work or necessary for living, like pants and maybe another piece of art.
Over the last four years Kitchen Storey (that’s right) and I have moved from Orange County to San Francisco to Austin. And then again to our new home in South Austin. Each time we purged material goods, packing it all in boxes and donating the goods to the neighborhood “good will.” In those four years we got rid of a lot of things bought, stored, collected over the many years we have been together. Looking back there was nothing left behind that we missed or needed.
This weekend, while She Who Takes to the Skies A Lot took to the skies for a family trip, I had plenty of time to consider the recent expansion of material and virtual goods. It’s amazing what kind of damage you can do with an iTunes Store and a double income with no kids. I reacquainted myself with all of the albums, movies and television programs that I have purchased over the years through iTunes.
I had not seen this library in a while. Services like Rdio, Netflix and Hulu have improved so much in so little time that at some point I just started to ignore my iTunes collection altogether. So there I was on a Sunday afternoon, listening to music I hadn’t heard in years and I started to think of all the stuff I purchased after arriving in Austin. Thankfully, it’s not an obscene list–my home will never be featured in an episode of Hoarders–but it’s long enough that I have things lying around, physical and virtual that don’t get enough use. In addition to this problem, their presence causes me to consider devoting time to their use over others and I waste time and focus on choosing one activity/thing over another.
Simply put, I have continued to create more options than I have time for. More options than I should ever want to have time for. My enthusiasm for wanting to try everything has trumped my ability to really get the most out of anything. This personal crisis is similar to what I wrote about for Cognition, “the possibility of what could be deter you from forward progress.”
The discovery of new things is a lot of fun, but I’m feeling the need for fewer options, fewer distractions. It’s time to put less emphasis on discovery and more on appreciation and application. From here on out I’m going to look at my home, my life, like a museum values their permanent collection. Everything will be considered for how it works in the existing collection, the existing ecosystem. A few years back all the cool kids learned a new word, “curation.” It was overused like white on rice, but in this case it is directly applicable to this situation and I intend to stick to it.
If you don’t know him yet, Naz Hamid is a tremendously talented guy whom I admire greatly. He operates his company to fit an amazingly simple lifestyle that includes a balance of body, mind and spirit. A few months ago I got the chance to catch up with Naz. We talked shop and he told me that he has been working towards prioritizing travel to be equal with that of the time he spends on client work. It’s right in line with the mythos posted at the top of his blog, “seek experiences, not materials.”
Well put Naz, I couldn’t have said it better myself.