In the interest of being more minimalist, I’ve combined this blog with my personal one. Posts on minimalism will appear there as usual, every Monday. Enjoy 🙂
For my tutorial this week I wrote a paper on inheritance and legacy in Ben Jonson’s play Volpone, which is basically about a greedy guy called Volpone (Italian for “sly fox”) who takes advantage of other greedy guys by pretending to be on his death bed, accepting gifts from those hopeful to be written into his will. Writing my paper felt like a blog post on minimalism (with slightly more academic and slightly less conversational phrases)!
In conjunction with the play I read Isabella Whitney’s poem Will and Testament, a highly entertaining satire of the detailed lists of random stuff people leave behind. She chooses to leave behind things like the buildings in London and her portion of meat from the butcher’s shop every day. A recommended read for a minimalist chuckle.
The characters in Volpone seem to do nothing but chase after money and status, neglecting and even sacrificing their friends and loved ones. Their focus on obtaining stuff dominates their lives to the extent that they cannot be identified in any other way.
Don’t be a one-dimensional medieval man. Think about the value of stuff and the value of things like the literature that makes us think about the value of stuff.
Robert Herrick puts it best in his Lyric for Legacies:
GOLD I’ve none, for use or show,
Neither silver to bestow
At my death ; but this much know,
That each lyric here shall be
Of my love a legacy,
Left to all posterity.
Gentle friends, then do but please
To accept such coins as these
As my last remembrances.
I woke up this morning with an aching stomach, and not really sure what to do, I spent most of the day asleep or lying down. I spent a lot of time staring at the room around me, the view from my window, thinking thoughts I haven’t had time to think in my structured day. I paid attention to my body, trying to figure out what it needed, calling attention to how little I do this on a normal day when my stomach is happy. When I get sick I can usually pinpoint the reason why – I was dehydrated, I was too cold, I didn’t get enough sleep – and then I pay attention to these things that I should be paying attention to before it’s too late. Take care of your bodies now, they’re what we live in.
Stop. Take a full deep breath. Exhale. Repeat.
In my practice of yoga and of rock climbing, I have found breathing to be the most effective strategy for tackling tension. It comes up again and again in the books and blogs and instructions. And, as is the case with most epiphanies reached through my activities, the advice is applicable to everyday life, in any situation.
Pay attention to your breath. It will ease your mind and remind you to be present, calm, and balanced.
Often when I’m stressed or nervous, I lose track of my breath and later notice that I am breathing too quickly or holding my breath unnaturally, and that’s only making things worse.
It seems obvious – yeah, breathing is important. I know. A lot of things that seem obvious are dismissed, taken for granted, neglected, and that’s when we mess them up. The hard stuff is often a lot easier because we know that it’s hard, so we are more focused.
Minimalism is about remembering those simple, obvious things and paying attention to them. Embracing them. Enjoying them. Focusing on the easy stuff before rushing on to the hard stuff.
So breathe. Your body and your mind will thank you.
Every purchase made is a vote for a certain type of product, so I do my best to make those votes count. Everyone needs to brush their teeth, so naturally a toothbrush and toothpaste are required. Sort of.
Introducing, my toothpaste substitute!
When I first saw Lush’s Toothy Tabs I was just as skeptical as perhaps you are right now. The idea is, you chew on one tablet, then brush your teeth normally. It feels weird and tastes weird at first (especially, if like me, you start out with the Atomic flavor, which is a spicy “clove bud oil” flavor), but my teeth have never felt cleaner. The best part is, you don’t have to stress about squeezing out the very last bits to make sure none is wasted since they’re packed into solid single-use tablets! Then when you’re done, the box is 100% recyclable.
My toothbrush is more conventional, but also ethical 🙂
Made by Monte-Bianco, this toothbrush has a replaceable head, reducing the amount of plastic discarded when you need a new brush. Even better, Oxfam carries them, so the money goes towards a good cause (For every £1, Oxfam donates 83p to emergency, development, and campaigning work, 10p to running costs and support, and 7p to generating future income).