January 25, 2013
[The “Hughtrain” cartoon, 2004]
I’ve been seeing a pattern emerging. Here are some of the main ingredients:
1. That Marfa, Texas, one of the great Minimalist shrines in America is now a popular hipster destination spot.
2. One of my my favorite movies of recent years, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, which I’ve been raving about for months, is a big hit in the documentary world. It’s also a filmic love poem to Minimalism (Hey, the director used Philip Glass and Max Richter for the film score, I rest my case).
3. Blogs about simple living and Minimalism seem to be really trendy these days, minimalist bloggers like Zen Habits conquering the world.
4. “The Minimalist” is one of the most popular themes on Tumblr.
5. The continuing rise of Westernized Eastern thought: Buddhism, meditation, Yoga, Zen etc (I’m a big Alan Watts fan, but that’s another story).
6. The other thing I’ve noticed is “Personal Coaches” and “Motivational Speakers” seem to be everywhere. Whether we’re talking Anthony Robbins or Brendon Burchard… or the new job title out there, “speakerauthor” (People known mostly for writing books, but make most of their money doing public speaking: Tom Peters, Malcolm Gladwell etc.) Then you also need all the more technocratic, businessspeak consultant mandarin types out there as well… Like I said, they’re everywhere, it seems to be an increasingly booming industry.
7. That there seem to be more TED speakers talking about how wonderful Atheism is, than there are TED speakers telling people how wonderful Christianity or Judaism or Islam is.
8. The growing idea that the Internet is now a religion.
9. The growing idea that “Jedi” is now a religion.
10. The growing idea that Apple is a religion.
11. The financial and political implosion/impasse/dog’s dinner that is Western Europe/The Euro/The E.U..
12. U.S. Fiscal Cliffs.
13. Environmental and animal rights activists.
14. Burning Man.
16. Charity Water.
I could go on.…
What does this tell me?
That we’re looking for new stuff to believe in.
That though the world is getting more and more complex, the old answers (Do what you’re told, buy a lot of stuff, obsess about THESE celebrities, worship THESE gods/THIS God, watch this trashy Reality TV, watch these crappy movies, read these crappy bestsellers, listen to this crappy music, believe these politicians etc.) aren’t working for us as well as they used to.
So we’re simplifying. We’re renewing. We’re clearing the decks. We’re doing a bit of spiritual Spring cleaning. We’re looking for new stuff to believe in. We’re looking for NEW CERTAINTIES.
Just like the “Hughtrain” cartoon above implies, we have an infinite need for it.
Sure, we like our old certainties (Mom’s cooking, a favorite pair of old jeans, small-town folksy ways, old school good manners, Ronald Reagan, old Jimmy Stewart movies at Christmas time etc), we are genetically programmed to seek out not only the new, but the NEW CERTAINTIES.
So I guess the next the question is, what “New Certainties” is your work bringing to the world?
If you don’t know, maybe best to find out… it’s where the real fun and action is to be found these days.
April 2, 2010
[“90%”, which I sent out recently in the newsletter. You can buy the print here etc.]
[Today’s guest post is from minimalist maven, Everett Bogue.]
How to Eliminate Distractions to Focus on the Important
In the modern age it’s so difficult to focus on the important.
It’s not entirely your fault. For the last few generations the televisions told us to want everything, then Internet gave us infinite options. It’s no wonder no one can concentrate on their art, we’ve never had the ability to do everything for 30 seconds a day.
Why focus when you can spend all day hitting the refresh button on your email?
It’s important to take time to remember how to focus.
The most successful people realize that in order to create anything meaningful, they need to turn it all off. In order to do anything that matters, you need cultivate a healthy atmosphere of complete silence in order make a difference in your own life and change the world.
Leo Babauta is focused on the essentials. He’s limited his life to the minimum in order to focus on the important. Now he runs the of top 25 blog Zen Habits and published his print book The Power of Less.
Tammy Strobel is focused on using simplicity to save the world. She encourages her readers to give up their gas-guzzlers for pedal power, to exchange your stuff for the elegance of living with less.
Colin Wright is focused on living anywhere. He lives with less 51 things and moves to a new continent every 4 months. He runs a zero-overhead sustainable design and marketing studio from anywhere in the world.
Ashley Ambirge is focused on challenging the status-quo. She’s just getting started as the world’s leading rebel against mediocrity, even if that means living in a basement (for now) in exchange for the opportunity to travel to every corner of the earth.
Focusing on the important doesn’t have to be complicated.
For the last six months I’ve been investigating the implications of living with less — the minimalist existence. This journey started with quitting my day job and hopping on a plane to Portland, OR with everything I owned in a bag. This investigation continues daily as I explore the true implications of turning it all off to focus on the important in order to make work that matters.
The answer is pretty simple, everyone buys and does too much stuff. They’re over-extended to the point that no one knows what they’re doing anymore. Anyone who’s not making things (or not making good things) isn’t “not creative enough”, instead they’ve been hypnotized into thinking that junk and wasting time matters more than discovering their true purpose.
The secret to focusing on the important is simple:
- Turn off the TV.
- Donate your junk.
- Turn off your smart phone.
- Quit your day job.
- Stop buying stuff that doesn’t matter.
- Cultivate silence.
- Work on your art.
- Have your own ideas.
- Push for change.
- Do something that matters.
All of that nonsense they told you to buy isn’t going to make you happy.
The only thing that is important making art that matters.
The only way to make art that matters is to focus on the important.
[Everett Bogue is the author of The Art of Being Minimalist and blogger at Far Beyond The Stars.]
[The “Remember Who You Are” archive is here.]
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