Today I am remembering to be grateful for all of the free time my minimalist lifestyle has given me. Minimizing my needs and desires for material things has resulted in having a lot more time to enjoy life.
Last summer I got to spend many peaceful hours going on long walks and listening to several audio books. One of them was Walden, (or Life in the Woods), by Henry David Thoreau. His story reminded me how lucky I was to also have so much freedom and free time.
Really though, it wasn’t luck. I actively decided to pursue a more unusual path. Being self employed has allowed me to choose the jobs I wanted to take on, and to choose the hours, days, or months I wanted to work. This decision had the benefit of more free time to enjoy life.
Being minimalist in my desires and habits has allowed me to “work” for only about half of my adult life. (Much of my work is learning and creating, so it’s more like play… like writing, or designing websites, or creating advertising, or renovating/building houses) The rest of the time I was free to explore the world and focus on understanding myself and others better.
For example, ten years ago my partner and I bought a house on a few acres of land. It was very remote, on a tiny island in British Columbia. We imagined we would become extremely self sufficient; grow food, get chickens and goats, the whole enchilada. We didn’t end up getting any farm animals or solar panels, but we did chop tons of firewood and had our own well. Instead of getting animals, we grew lots of veggies and became vegetarians.
For those three years we had no phone, internet, or TV. If we needed to contact someone we’d go to use the internet or phone elsewhere. If you’re like most people these days, you might think, “Holy cow, you guys must have been bored stiff!” or “What the heck would you do with yourself with no entertainment?”
Well, actually, we were never bored. In fact, we did a lot MORE interesting stuff. We had so much more time to enjoy life. Rather than watching others do things, we made our own entertainment. One of the best things was getting together with friends to play music. Everyone brought an instrument and we sang, talked and laughed. It was magical. We even played on stage at the bar a couple of times.
I read many library books from cover to cover, with no interruptions. I wrote a lot. I also studied lucid dreaming and kept a dream journal.
I made art. I sketched and painted, made paper mache sculptures, designed wool rugs, knitted sweaters, mitts and socks. My partner turned hundreds of fantastic wooden bowls from a diverse range of local fallen timbers. We displayed our work in the art gallery and also sold things in a tiny craft shop and in art fairs.
We got together with friends to play volleyball and card games. We danced.
We hiked up mountains, through the lush temperate rainforest and along the beaches. We soaked in the sunsets on the Western beach and in winter we made huge snow sculptures.
We built a 50′ crop circle garden and diverted the grey water from the sink and tub into a greenhouse we made. The recycled water produced delicious watermelons, peppers and tomatoes. (Note: only non-toxic cleansers were used in our home, so it was safe for consumption)
We met some remarkable people. There were shamans, wiccans, artists, musicians, and people had unusual names like Oshun, Infinity, Fawn, Om, Spoon, Gamble, Shine, Garden and Lovena. It was a breathtakingly beautiful and immensely interesting place to live, full of imaginative and resourceful people.
I am making it sound like it was perfect, but I can assure you that it wasn’t. Coming from a city slicker background, it is remarkable how much less privacy and anonymity there is in such a small community. I didn’t realize how precious that was until it was missing. The work was sporadic, and grocery shopping was a two-ferry, all day long, monthly odyssey.
However, back to the point of this story. The point is that carving out a more minimalist life gives you more free time. It doesn’t have to be so extreme, but simplifying your needs and reducing your desires leads to freedom; like the kind of freedom of not knowing (or caring) what time of day, or day of the week it is. Freedom from time is divine.
Maybe when I’m really old, I might regret not having worked longer and harder to save up my millions… but I doubt it. I’ve enjoyed intense bursts of activity, followed by semi-retirement for my entire adult life. I have given myself space to breathe and time to enjoy life while I am young enough to take risks and healthy enough to revel in the experience.
On a trip last autumn, I met a woman in her mid-sixties, whose husband had been a very successful professional football player. He had recently had one of his legs amputated and was understandably very depressed. Financially, they were very wealthy, but destitute due to poor health and a lack of time. They had waited too long to do all of the things they had dreamed of doing. She vehemently reminded me to, “LIVE YOUR LIFE NOW!!!”, don’t wait to do the things you have always wanted to do. We don’t know what the future holds, but we can take a firm grasp of today and live life to the fullest. Whatever is most important to you, get going on it!
Money comes and goes, but time only goes.
Creating a minimalist lifestyle has been instrumental in taking control of my time and my freedom. Find ways to reduce the demands for your attention and the desire for material things so you have time to enjoy life.