I was reading a post over at Tynan.com about sticking to your habits. At the top of the post was a photo of Tynan’s RV. The habit he was trying to stick to was keeping his home tidy.
In that photo I noticed a violin. I began to wonder if he played it. I presume that he does. He’s a bit of a minimalist. Having such an item for decoration is antithetical. That got me thinking about how many habits and hobbies I have that require me to own things that support the habit: I watch TV, so I own three televisions; I like to take videos, so I own three video cameras and accompanying equipment; I like wine and whisky, so I own all glasses and bottles and aerators and all sorts of mixing equipment and ingredients.
So now I’m realizing that I have to keep all this stuff somewhere. I live in a large condo. It’s not Hollywood-Livin’-Large large, but it’s sizeable. In this place, all my hobby equipment has a home.
Do I need all this stuff? I have stuff for hobbies that I didn’t make my hobbies. I have two guitars. I don’t play either of them. But I plan on picking up the guitar when I hit 40. That’s only two years away. So I may as well hang on to those. I have two big Internet servers. They’re huge, and in my closet. I don’t actually anticipate using them, but they’re sitting in there losing value and gaining dust. They are noisy as hell and hot when they’re running so there’s no point in running them in the house. Maybe I could heat the garage with them in the winter, but they are expensive to operate as heaters.
“The things you own end up owning you,” said Tyler. There’s a lot of truth to that, even if you only count the things you own but never use. I dragged those servers across the country when I moved. They weigh 90lbs. I’m sure I spent some money on gas with those things on board. I’ve been dragging those guitars around for 4,500 miles. Then there are clothes I never wear, outdated computer cables, dishes in the backs of cabinets… and even some that are in the front.
It feels like it’s more trouble to get rid of those things than it is to keep them. That thought might be laziness. It’s a funny notion that laziness works really hard to assert itself. What’s really going on here is that I, like most of you, don’t want to deal with things until I am forced to do so. I end up packing up these things and moving them around with me. I end up finding a place to put them that is out of the way. I probably spend two or three times the effort and money in this procrastinative pattern.
It’s a simple fix to get rid of the things I’m not using. That’ll be step two. Step one is to choose the habits and hobbies that I’m going to pursue. I already have running as a hobby. The wonderful thing about running is that I can do it almost anywhere. The downside is that in horrible wintry weather, I need a treadmill. That’s a big thing to lug around. I use it all the time, but it’s still 100lbs I will probably have to move again at some point.
I think running is a great model for a good hobby of mine. I run multiple times a week. Currently I’m running five days a week in preparation for a marathon in the fall. If I picked up a brand new hobby and spent five days a week in the pursuit of that hobby I’d be moderately good at it in a few years. Running my first marathon will have been a nine-year journey. If I decided to pick up guitar and practiced that for nine years I’d probably be playing at a sandwich shop on my lunch hour, and that would be fantastic.
Let me pull back from my navel gazing here and get to the point… or at least the point for me. Pick the hobbies first, then spend some time making sure the hobbies stick, and then get rid of the stuff that didn’t make the cut. And just like laundry: lather, rinse, and repeat. That’s what I’m going to do anyway. Getting rid of the things I don’t use will release me. They aren’t a figurative burden, they are an actual one. Anyone interested in a couple of big servers?