October 30, 2018

After It’s Over: Seven Tips for Navigating the Cascade of Emptiness

It is something that is most likely to happen right after something big has ended. Maybe you have lost a job, broken up with a romantic partner, or finished and delivered a big project. Maybe two or three things like this happened almost at the same time. The abrupt change has an obvious effect on your schedule. One day you were rushing to keep up and meet obligations and deadlines; the next, you had the unmistakable feeling of time on your hands.

And it does not stop there. With more time at your disposal, you catch up on other tasks that had been lagging or neglected in recent weeks or months. If you continue to work diligently, those too are soon finished, delivered, struck off your list. After a relatively short period of this, life can start to feel positively empty. It only seems emptier day by day as your backlog or to-do list gets shorter and shorter. This is an effect I have come to refer to as the cascade of emptiness.

Though it is likely to feel like a problem, this dynamic is actually one of the great moments of opportunity.

October 05, 2018

Running Shoes, New in Box

I found a pair of running shoes I didn’t know I had. These were new shoes, still in their box. The box had fallen behind the furniture and been lost for three years.

Those who have been following the story will immediately understand my dismay.

August 22, 2018

Minimalism vs. Online Shopping

While my own experiment with minimalism in shopping continues, the affluent side of America is experimenting with a different approach to minimizing shopping.

June 26, 2018

Three Months of Minimal Shopping

I have now been through almost three months of minimal shopping, and it is only now that the refrigerator is starting to look empty. It seems a good moment to summarize where I have been so far.

May 27, 2018

The Bacon Project

I had five pounds of bacon in the freezer, a gift from a friend of a friend who had moved to another state. Normally, I would never eat bacon. Besides the well-known health risks, bacon tastes like a burned-out building. I wonder sometimes why it even exists. But, hey, free food tastes better, right?

May 05, 2018

Shopping and Procrastination

“You already have everything you need,” is a statement I have heard so often it has become a cliché. What it really means, I’ve decided, is, “Go ahead. Do something. Try something. Don’t be afraid to get started. Take action. Use what you have. Use what you know. You can make it happen.”

Looking at it this way, this idea can seem to be the opposite of procrastination. You don’t need to wait for something more to show up. The best thing you can do is to take action now.

Hear the same words in a slightly more literal sense, though, and you could just as easily take them as the opposite of shopping. Shopping, after all, is premised on the idea, “There is something more you need.” When you can’t find a reason to go shopping, that implies that you already have everything you need. When you decide you need something more, that is when you go shopping.

So maybe, in a funny way, shopping is the equivalent of procrastination.

April 30, 2018

A Month Without Shopping

I have reached the end of my month without shopping. It did not go exactly the way I planned, but that was the point — to find out what would happen.

April 25, 2018

The New Shoes

When I took on the challenge of going for a month without shopping, I felt sure that something would break during the month and I would have to buy a replacement. I did not know what that might be, but I was certainly not thinking of running shoes.