When moving a great distance, it helps to not have excess stuff. When you’re paying for every pound, lots of things start looking like excess. Cd’s, furniture, DVD’s, cables, books, appliances – get it out of here!
I have really enjoyed purging my materials, and digitizing allows us to hold onto lots of things in a small space. We are capable of photographing our art projects, scanning our journals and ripping our media. Now, I can store my data on a central server, so even if my hard drive kicks the bucket, I can still access my stuff!
This act of simplicity is a journey, I am surprised with how much this process has affected my mood. I feel less weight, less worry.
There is a story about a man who approached Gandhi and said that he’d been thinking about living a simpler life, but he didn’t feel like he could give up his collection of books. Gandhi is said to have replied, “As long as you derive inner help and comfort from anything, you should keep it. If you were to give it up in a mood of self-sacrifice or out of a stern sense of duty, you would continue to want it back, and that unsatisfied want would make trouble for you. Only give up a thing when you want some other condition so much that the thing no longer has any attraction for you.”
My take on this, and on your question, is that simplicity is not an endstate that is achieved but a path that one is walking. I find all kinds of ways in my life that I’m not living quite like I wish, and then I try to see if there is a way to change my life. So, to me, a simple lifestyle is always in the middle ground.
The more I consider how great it feels to not have things, I still find myself attached to certain items. Most important is my music gear and my transportable technology: laptop, hard drives and interfaces. They are enablers of creativity, communication and innovation. I generally ignore how these materials simultaneously inhibit what they exhibit. Perhaps I will find the best tools in a space void of the materials I find most important.