A thought while contemplating consumer culture in America:
We are often suckered into buying new things to “improve” our lives, but more often than not — these new things actually complicate and worsen our lives.
Thus my simple thought: perhaps with material things, tools and equipment — we should strive to simplify our lives, instead of complicating our life.
For example, cars. A car is very convenient for many things, and will certainly help you get from point A to point B much quicker. But the question is — does the car complicate or simplify your life? For example, when I have a car, I often get suckered into going to the mall or places that are further out — which wastes a lot of time (stuck in traffic, and time spending to find parking). When I don’t have access to a car, I’ll stay more local, and walk around more— which is often better for my creative thinking.
Also with cameras, laptops, devices, digital tools, etc — more often than not, having TOO MANY OPTIONS actually makes us LESS PRODUCTIVE to create things which we are really interested in. And trust me — whenever I’m lacking creative inspiration, I always get the voice in my head that tells me — “Just buy that new thing, and then suddenly you’ll be so much happier and creatively productive!”
Lessons learned while living nomadically
I’ve cycled between nomadic living, traveling, and being domesticated in the suburbs the last decade or so — and my simple lesson in life is this:
A simpler life is a superior life.
For example, I don’t think the nomadic life in itself is what makes life more fun and interesting — it is the fact that when you’re living nomadically, you don’t have a choice or option to live a complicated life. Living nomadically FORCES you to live simply— because you cannot accumulate much material things, nor can you live in a big home, etc. Nomadic living is forced simple living.
You can live a simple life anywhere — but this is my main thought:
To live simply and to NOT accumulate excess takes more skill than to go shopping and buying new shit.
For example when you live in the suburbs or in a big home, accumulating stuff is almost an occupational hazard. Stuff seems to just mysteriously fill up the space of your home— whether you buy it on amazon, acquire it from friends and family, or from birthday parties or at the mall.
My mantra I’ve tried to follow the last decade:
Everyday, strive to strip the superfluous.
I’m still trying to figure out what is essential and superfluous in my life. And the tricky thing is that what is essential and superfluous in my life is constantly in a state of flux. Thus, everyday I must be active, sharp, and agile — to keep changing my tools, my environment, and my daily schedule to accommodate for my new needs.
Optimize your life for philosophy and art
I derive the greatest joy from thinking and creating— a blend of philosophy and art.
It seems that the ultimate apex of human self-actualization is a hybrid of artist-philosopher. Being productive and fruitful as a visual artist, while also thinking deep thoughts on life, wisdom, and knowledge.
Thus a simple way to live your life— whenever you want to make a certain lifestyle choice, or buy something, ask yourself:
Will this help me develop and grow as a philosopher-artist?