Minimalism: How I Protect My Treasures from Moths and Rust


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As I do every year, I spent Christmas morning reading the Sermon on the Mount.

As a non-Christian, the Jesus origin story doesn’t do much for me. But Jesus’ teachings – summarized beautifully in the Sermon – are fantastic.

Truth be told, some of the Sermon gets under my skin. The word Hypocrite is sprinkled throughout the Sermon. The hypocrisy lives on today and it irks me.

This post began in my journal as an airing of grievances against the Hypocrites, but I’m turning the other cheek – and turning the calendar to 2017 – with positivity.

Go F yourself, 2016. Here’s to a dope 2017!

If you’re still stuck in negativity, I totally get it. You might read my post How I’ve Recovered from Trump before continuing.

Still here? Great! This post is about minimalism and a Sermon on the Mount passage that I really love – Matthew 6:19-20.

Jesus was a Sandal-Rockin’ Minimalist

I think it’s fair to say that Jesus was a minimalist. Beard and sandals. Giving unto others. Lack of McMansion in the suburbs of Nazareth.

Dude didn’t even build a megachurch or rent a stadium to deliver his most important message. He just stood up on a hill (a Mount?) and started droppin’ knowledge bombs.

And maybe my favorite knowledge bomb of the Sermon is recapped in Matthew 6:19-20.

“Do not store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.”

Wait! If you have trouble with the Heaven word, just stop and breathe. Heaven doesn’t have to refer to the afterlife. Instead, think of it as the when or where or how through which you reach peak spiritual fulfillment.

And the when or where or how is rarely a treasure stored up here on earth. It’s rarely (never?) a material thing.

That’s why, for the most part my treasures are stored up in my own Heaven – in the relationships I’ve built, in the causes I support, and of course the roads that I meander.

As far as I’m concerned, those are all moth-, rust-, and thief-free zones.

OK, So Maybe I’m a Semi-Minimalist…

Admittedly, I have more than a few material things stored up here on Earth.

For example, I’ve got an absurdly American-sized TV and I watch way too much of it during bowl season. Also, I splurged on vanity plates for my Subaru this Christmas. (It may seem a little thing but I resisted the, ummm, vanity of it for years.) vanity plate on subaru outback

And I do love the idea of home. A kitchen where I can prepare food. A backyard where I can relax, garden, and host guests. A king sized bed where I can store unfolded laundry.

Hell, I even started a retirement account as part of my adult-ing initiative last year. It’s 100% safe from moths and rust but quite vulnerable to the thieves who prowl Wall Street.

I don’t think having a little bit of money and owning a few things makes me a bad minimalist.

I just ran five Ziploc bags through the dishwasher! I think it’s a minimalist act to simply follow the adage: Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do. Or do without.

That mindset is good for the planet, good for the pocketbook, and good for the soul.

As far as I’m concerned, minimalism isn’t about living out of a backpack or dining out of dumpsters.

Minimalism is about balance.

Minimalism is about Balance … and Gratitude

Living in post-WWII America comes with some pretty sweet financial perks. We are part of the most powerful economic engine in world history.

To enjoy the benefits of minimalism, I don’t have to be a pauper.

I just spend less and appreciate more.

By denying that American urge to have exactly what I want exactly when I want it, I’ve cultivated deeper appreciation for Little Free Libraries, the clearance shelves at Fry’s, free admission days at museums, and the five boxes of girl scout cookies I found at Kings Canyon National Park last year.

I make time for sunsets. I get excited to shower in grimy smalltown YMCAs after days of camping. I attach fond acquisition memories to almost all my material things.

I’ve been incredibly blessed financially, both as a child with hard-working dedicated parents and now as an adult with a rewarding and flexible career.

But for the most part I store up my treasures in relationships, service, and experiences.

To me, that’s Heaven. That’s where God (or Universe or Spirit or Source) resides.

And, to quote JC, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.

“You cannot serve both God and money.”

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Camelback Santa

Coal? WTF Santa?!? Guess I’ll try harder in 2017.

I’m Back! How I’ve Recovered from the Tragedy of Trump

Warning: This post does not shy from the fact that Trump is a liar, hatemonger, and sex predator. Disagree? Cool. To quote Jay Z, if you don’t like my lyrics you can press fast forward.

I’m back … in more ways than one. Well, two actually.

First, I’m back on the blog after a 10-month hiatus that included 10 amazing days in DC, a fourth Meander to Seattle and back, and a relationship with a lovely lady that wasn’t meant to be.

It’s been so long that a Facebook-free friend recently asked if he’d been removed from my email list. Hope you’re seeing this, Brett! Thanks for the reminder to blog. 🙂

Second, I’m back from the election of Donald Trump.

The hateful campaign and distressing result were incredibly painful for me, just as they were painful for many of you.

Here’s how I journeyed through the five stages of grief before finally recovering from the tragedy of Trump. If you’re stuck in the first four stages, be sure to read through to the final two.

american with an america cup

I love America. Just ask the last co-Meanderer who shoved my camping cup into long-term storage.

Stage 1: Denial

I kicked off my 2016 Meander with 10 days of touristing and lobbying in Washington DC. I left our nation’s capital convinced there was no way such a great country would elect such a pig.

That confidence held until the last few weeks of the campaign. As I stumbled into conversations with more and more closeted Trump voters and as I formulated my Colin Kapernick theory, my eyes opened.

Soon, I was freaking out. I attended my first political rally. I shared my fears on social media. I challenged cocky liberals to do more. I watched cable news and addictively read campaign coverage on my smartphone. I tried to convince myself that FiveThirtyEight was right and that everything would be OK.

As the votes rolled in, denial didn’t serve me.

Stage 2: Angerwrong on the internet

On Election Day, my freakout compelled me to push back against the impending Tragedy of Trump.

I went on the offensive declaring that my vote was for all the ladies who’d been “grabbed by the pussy”. All the Latinos who’ve been eyeballed by Sherriff Joe. All the LGBT folks, dark-skinned folks, and everyone else who’ve been stepped on by assholes like Trump.

The anger didn’t end there. It lasted for days as I became what I loathe – one of those people who can’t come to bed because someone else is wrong on the Internet.

Anger didn’t serve me. Neither did the gin and sodas.

Stage 3: Bargaining

I tried to make sense of it all the next morning. I made excuses for Trump voters because I deeply love some of them. (In another rationalization, I still can’t bring myself to say Trump supporter.)

Hey, it’s not their fault. They just value local autonomy, gun rights, and abortion bans. Besides, their minds were poisoned by Fox News and fake news. They were tricked into voting for the pig.

On some level, I knew I was lying to myself. People who voted Trump weren’t necessarily liars or sexists or racists or homophobes themselves. They were just saying that those things were OK from the leader of our nation.

Bargaining didn’t serve me. In fact, it drove me into Stage 4 as I questioned myself.

Stage 4: Depression

Sitting atop Camelback Mountain that Friday, I pulled out my notepad to journal. Then I sketched a peace sign, a heart, and an American flag. The peace sign found the piece of paper first.

I just so very badly wanted the pain to go away.

George Bush’s reelection disappointed me, but I didn’t despair. Good person. Bad president. Trump is a bad person (presidential skill TBD) and I was depressed that so many chose him.

Depression didn’t serve me.

But the seeds of recovery were planted when I descended Camelback and posted my drawing to Facebook with an offer: “I’m around all weekend. If you wanna talk, hit me up.”

Stage 5: Acceptance peace love america

I invited communication – first implicitly by being so vocal on Facebook and later explicitly by telling y’all to hit me up. And hit me up you did.

I talked with gays, non-citizen legal immigrants, and Muslims. I chatted with men who actually looked to me for answers. (Does that mean I’m a grown ass man now?)

And, yes, I talked to Trump voters. Some were respectful. Some have since been unfriended.

The conversations reminded me that I wasn’t alone. They broke the isolation of working from home and of keeping quiet publicly to avoid closeted Trump voters.

Finally, acceptance served me. Trump was president-elect and no amount of cable news or Facebook arguments or whining with friends would change that. So I opted out of it all.

Stage 6: Action

Did you know there are only five stages of grief? I think there should be six. After all, acceptance is awesome. Action is awesomer.

Over the course of my conversations, a new call to action emerged. I found myself pushing friends to opt out of the negativity and opt in to service. And I pushed myself to do the same.

For example, I was filled with volatile negative emotions as Thanksgiving approached. A normal holiday with my family involves about 50 people, a decent percentage of whom are Trump voters.

So, I opted out.

I spent the morning with my immediate family then left to volunteer with the Humane Society. Sure, there was some election talk. The outcome of this election will be horrendous for animals.

In those conversations too, I challenged friends to reroute their negative energy toward service. To make a difference in their local communities. To take action.

After all, the impact any individual can have on the federal level is small. The impact any one of us can have locally is huge.

And, now, I challenge you to take action.

We have four years until we can right this wrong. How will YOU make a difference in the meantime? Hit me up with your answer.

In case it’s another 10 months before my next post, you might want to subscribe by email.

Be sure to have your neighbors’ backs. The assholes behind me certainly won’t.