I guess it was a little impulsive, but I got an apartment in Mongolia yesterday.
I've only been here eight days, but I like it enough. And I felt like I needed some grounding to get all my work done. Worst case scenario, I just eat the security deposit if I move on early.
500,000 tugruk a month. $400. It's a nice place. Furnished. Near Sukhbaatar Square.
Then a funny thing happens - my inclination after moving in is to think about all stuff I could buy to fill the place up. I think, ah, I could get some really nice soaps. And some of this, and some of that.
And it strikes me - that's kind of absurd. Don't mistake me for anti-consumerist, because I'm not. I think mass production has done so much for the world in terms of getting a reasonably high quality of goods to people at a good price.
But I thought about why I was going to buy some stuff, and the answer wasn't, "Because it's useful and/or necessary for doing what I want to do." No, it was more like... "Because I need to mark this territory as mine."
Huh. I don't so much need or want things, I was just thinking like a dog wanting to piss on a fire hydrant.
Maybe I'll go buy some of that stuff, or maybe I won't. It's not a big deal either way. But I think the thing to remember is that the stuff around us should be less important than the stuff we're doing. You can be in the most spartan of environment with good people you like being around, doing interesting things, and life is fantastic. And without associating with people you like and doing things worth doing, then all the stuff in the world doesn't help.
This isn't an anti-consumerism post. No, consumerism is awesome, in its place. Rather, this is a make-sure-you're-defining-life-by-action-not-by-stuff-that's-around-you post. We can all use some more of that.
"But I think the thing to remember is that the stuff around us should be less important than the stuff we’re doing."
I guess it's the same reason people hang pictures on the wall. I suspect that making your living place cozy and personalized gives a feeling of familiarity and safety. When you move to a new place, personalizing/familiarizing it can quickly remove a layer of unnecessary emotions and make the transition smooth.
My awareness is getting better. Last night, I'd been working in a restaurant near Sukhabatar Square until it closed at midnight. Walking home, I was about to pass through a group of three guys when suddenly this flash of danger kicked in. WarningWarningWarning!!!
I stopped, turned on my heel, and walked in a broad circle around them. One of the guys looked at me. I looked back briefly, but then kept moving.
I'm keeping an eye on these guys because they're kind of sort of in my way in the direction I'm going. I can circle around because I'm at the broad part of the walkway past Sukhabar, so there's two paths. But they're still near me.
As I'm watching, a random passerby walks through the three tough dudes. One of them grabs the passerby by the arm, and starts to try totally hold him. The passerby yells, shouts, shoves, pushes, shakes, and is able to get away and run off towards the night.
My awareness is getting better.
I had to double, and then triple, check this, but apparently I've never written a post on minimalism before. Then again, I live in an RV smaller than your walk-in closet, so I don't suppose this post will come as a surprise to anyone. Still, it's probably worth writing a few paragraphs about it for anyone who is considering paring down, but has some lingering objections to it.
Back when I was a professional gambler and made a ton of money, I did what anyone with a lot of money would do: I bought a house. My house was about 1800 square feet, which isn't a big house by today's standards, but is quite a lot of space for one person. What I didn't consider was that a house comes bundled with pressure to fill it with stuff.
So I did. I bought tables, couches, chairs, beds, knick knacks, plants, pots, pans, dishes, and four robotic lawnmowers. I converted one of the rooms into a movie theater and another into a warehouse to store all of my stuff. If I wasn't a compulsive shopper, I was at least an enthusiastic one. All the while, I never really thought about the end-game of all this stuff. I knew how to get it into my life, but never really considered how I'd get it out eventually.