The Minimalism Game

Minimalism Game Days 29-31: This is the End, Beautiful Friend

Often life is a series of false starts and half-assed attempts.  We have great plans and great intentions, but then the day-to-day grind gets in the way.   Work, friends, significant others, kids, and all the myriad collection of duties that become our responsibilities.

And then there’s the worst enemy of them all . . . the wane of enthusiasm.

You have so much passion and energy and you just can’t wait to start.  You’re propelled to action by some mysterious force, and you know this is thing you must be doing. If there were a bit, you would be literally champing (or chomping) at it.

And then, just as quickly as you were drawn to it, you lose interest.

With the Minimalism Game, keeping away from alcohol, and this blog, I’m thankful my commitment never wavered.  My daily routines threw down some obstacles, but never enough to stop me.  And while I can’t say my enthusiasm throughout the month was ever as high as Day One, I remained excited to see these projects through to the end.

So did I make it to April Fool’s Day sober and with 496 less possessions?  Let’s find out . . .

*****

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Hodgepodge Day

For March 29th I knew it was going to be hodgepodge, higgledy–piggledy kind of day.   For the final two days of the Minimalism Game I planned an assault on my bookshelves.  So for the third-to-last, or near penultimate one, I had to scour every crevice of my apartment to find things I did not need.

There was my whole array of electronics.  My 10 year-old desktop computer that I wasn’t even using when I lived in San Francisco, but thought it would be a good idea to ship to Hawaii.  My Toshiba Laptop that I accidentally dropped on the floor over 2 years ago and then would not start.  My twelve-year-old coffee maker, which at one time was top-of-the-line, had been replaced a few months back by a French Press (also pictured above), which was then replaced by an even better stainless steel French Press.  The infamous iPod that killed my CDs, which now only plays music through one earphone.  Three old cell phones, including the first one I ever owned (hard to believe, but I actually held-out from joining the cell phone world until summer of 2004).  A remote control.  And then a clunky printer/scanner that came with the apartment but has never worked.

Then there’s the category of stuff that can best be described as “everything else”.  A beat-up REI bag that I once had a strong affection for, gray shoelaces, a blanket from United Airlines, a plastic sword and its accompanying Gladiator costume, a cigar-cutter from the 90s, various semi-used toiletries, an empty inhaler, a water-infuser, an unopened adventure gift-set, a VHS concert of Frank, Dino and Liza Minnelli, a DVD rom (remember those), and a plastic gas can (for the scooter I sold in February).

I could have got rid of more assorted stuff, but I wanted on the final two days find 60 books to donate.

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Two Questions Decide Their Fate

In choosing books, there were two questions I asked: (1) What are the odds I would I read it again and (2) if I hadn’t read it, what are the odds I would?   If the answer was less than 50% for either, I put the book in the pile.  Here’s some notes on ones that are going away:

  • Flimsy Plastic Miracles, was Ron Currie Jr’s follow-up to his outstanding Everything Matters! While I enjoyed Miracles and I’ll be looking forward to Currie’s next book, I just don’t see myself reading it again (where I’m certain I will pick up Everything Matters! a few more times in the future).
  • Last Call is a well-written, engaging story set mostly in Las Vegas and involves gambling, tarot cards, otherworldly elements, and a battle for souls. I highly recommend it and have read the book twice (once a few years back) . . . which is why I’m giving it away.
  • I love Kurt Vonnegut and he’s one of my favorites, but I just could not get into Hocus Pocus.     The other books in here for various reasons I could not get into were The Sportswriter, The Stones of Summer (which as the book that inspired the documentary I referenced earlier in the game The Stone Reader), The Spellman Files, Spade & Archer (a prequel to The Maltese Falcon, one of my favorites), The Heart Aroused (unfortunately not mine), and The Mortdecai Trilogy (the Johnny Depp film did not make me want to revisit this 2010 purchase of mine).  I know all of these are fine books and maybe at another point in my life I could get into them, but I’d rather set them free to find owners who will enjoy them now.
  • Travel books for two places I’ve never been (Tahiti & Greece), that are now outdated.  I still want to get to both of those places, but I’ll get updated versions when that happens.
  • Two hiking books for California (Peninsula Trails and Big Sur). I got my use out of the former, but only got to do a couple of hikes in the latter.  I had a camping trip to Big Sur planned for 2008 that unfortunately had to be canceled after a big forest fire.
  • I really enjoyed Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian, but it’s a massive hard cover book that I’m not likely to read again anytime soon.
  • I bought The Chandler Apartments at a cool bookshop in Prague called Shakespeare & Sons, and while it was a good souvenir (it’s even autographed) and a good read, I most likely won’t go cover-to-cover with it again.
  • The Grifters is a book I’ve read at least three times over the last fifteen years and I’ll probably again, but I have another copy of it (my brother bought me a new one a few years back).
  • There are some writing/publishing books in here that I got my use out of and now time to make available to others.
  • I have somewhere in the neighborhood of a dozen Phillip K Dick books in my library, but I just never connected with the two I’m giving away: Voices From the Street (published posthumously and non-sci-fi) and Counter-Clock World (a great premise in that time is running backwards).

It wasn’t easy, but I got my sixty.  And while the bookshelves are still full, they are no longer bulging.  The next project will be to reorganize them and do some dusting, but I’ll save that for another day.

So there you have it . . . I successfully completed the Minimalism Game.  I’m happy to say I have no regrets or any “giver’s remorse”.  The resolve to do this started on Leap Day and ended on April Fool’s Day . . . that is rife with symbolism but it’s too late on a Sunday evening for me to do it justice.  I need to get some more distance from the Minimalism Game.

Right now I’m just glad it’s over!

As for drinking, I guess I could say the same.  I made it the full thirty-one days, and then on April 1st stopped the madness with a few beers.  For the record, the first one was an Occidental Bohemian Pilsner (Portland, Oregon) at Real Gastropub, and it was downright delicious.

 

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