When thinking of photography and whatever approach I might decide to take in the near future. Much like life itself, I can’t help but think of minimalism. What that actually means? I’m not sure, but living out of a suitcase over the past months with a single camera body and a 50 millimeter lens has been difficult yet educating. Moving to Arlington, I’ve found a renewed interest in photography and documenting my new surroundings. With my newfound interest has come a desire to approach each picture with a new sense of purpose and focus. Asking myself, what attracted me to this image and what message, if any, do I wish to convey? As much as I’ve alway been to telephone lines and cell phone towers. I can’t help but think, with all these connections and gigabytes, we seem to be communicating less. Sure, we talk a lot. But, are we listening?
With a move just a day away and an exhausting week of packing almost done, I hope to move forward with my energy and purpose. Our new home offers many windows of opportunity to put forth. Or, at the very least, supplement the ideas and plans I’ve been looking to add, subtract, or continue as we’ve made it a habit to visit the condo since our closing day regularly, sometimes to bring essentials, others to measure or plan. It never goes without notice how an empty room allows for boundless thoughts, ideas, and creativity. Below is a shortlist of actions and undertakings I plan on implementing or continuing.
Tai-chi – What a great way to start the day? In with the good and our with the bad.
Minimalism – This has been an obsession of mine for some time. Packing for the move has been a revelation—a back-breaking reminder of everything I had to have.
Meditation – Since I was in grammar school, I’ve relied on meditation for long periods, often interrupted by being too busy with complete nonsense. Considering how beneficial the results have always been, I often find myself scratching my head as to why I ever stop. Whether it be stress, anxiety, overthinking, breathing, or just clearing the mind, five minutes to a half-hour of meditation does more than any pill or time with a therapist has ever done for me.
We were heading home from a road trip when my wife asked if I wanted to stop anywhere before our final stop in Seattle. Having become more savvy with maps and my geography, I nonchalantly suggested a visit to Funko’s headquarters in Everett. Though she agreed, she immediately included the stipulation that I do not buy anything. “Gosh, what’s the fun in that?” I thought as I mumbled something about having five items on my list. We quickly found a parking spot headed inside and eventually went our separate ways. When she finally found me I had quickly found Sting, Andy Summers, Stewart Copeland (The Police) and two Johnny Cash Funko toys. I don’t know if it was the evil eye or the reminder that I regularly complain about having too many things (Which I do.) but I immediately returned the items to their shelves and returned to my wife’s side like a wounded child who’s Halloween candy had been confiscated. When I returned home. I stood amongst the toys and records that have taken over our second bedroom and wondered how I got here and when will I decide to get out. I hope that time comes sooner than later.
When I called my Mother this morning. In a somewhat puzzled state of mind, She asked me for my address. Being that I’ve told her countless times before and included it with the cards, letters and various mail related items I’ve sent her. I was puzzled as to why she was asking me again. “I your address &#$^@?” she asked.”Yes, that is my address.” “Well, I’m so pissed. The post office returned my package.” I knew the reason before she could even speak. As this has happened several times since my wife and me moved to Seattle. “Did you include the apartment number?” The one I’ve instructed you to always include?” “No, don’t they know you live there by now?” Now, I recall reminding her to do so more than a half a dozen times now, to no avail. However, my dismay or anger had nothing to do with her forgetting mildly important things.
My anger stems from the fact that I started insisting she stop sending me these packages back in 1994. Again, to no avail. Now,when you think about it. That’s almost twenty five years of unwanted, unsolicited packages. Items she’s purchased at places like K-Mart, Wall-Mart and other big box stores I myself, refuse to enter. knowing full well that any chosen package will contain items I will either have to throw out, pass on to someone who most likely think I’m nuts, or find room to store. Each box, envelope or package sent includes a unintentional amount of anxiety. The kind that comes with having things you don’t want or need thrust upon you. Not to mention, the inevitable phone call asking, “Did you get it?” “What did you think?” In the end, I don’t want to be surrounded by things I don’t need or one’s I can’t get rid of without the guilt associated with discarding items gifted by loved one.
As our Jersey City condo nears its closing date. The thought of moving back east in order to be closer to friends, family and loved ones looms large. Before deciding to take a job offer and move to Seattle, My wife left the door open to moving back to the area if life here didn’t live up to what we expected it to be. At the time, moving away from friends, family and an area I had lived the entirety of my life in, did not seem to concern me. The opportunity to live on another coast was paramount. Thus making our decision almost immediate. Visiting Seattle for the first time ever back in May and ultimately moving here in June. I was able to leave behind a lot of my worries, anxiety and stress and view life with a fresh and very different outlook. As we close in on a year here in Seattle. I can’t think of how the move has change me for the better. Sure, it rains a hell of a lot here and the area has it’s share of problems. However, my friends back East have been pummeled by one Nor’easter after another. All things considered, the idea of moving back to New York City or New Jersey doesn’t quite appeal to me as much as plotting a course for another city I’ve yet to experience or country whose cities and culture would be further explored. In some respects, the nomad spirit in me yearns for new adventures.
It might have taken me longer than some but, I’m quickly coming to learn that much of my happiness comes from life’s little gifts. You know, the ones that don’t make your eyes bleed when your monthly credit card bill arrives. In moving to Seattle, my hopes were that some of the stress regarding expectations, wants and needs would diminish and ultimately, help me see what was right in front of me all along.The first months of living out of a couple of suitcases at fully stocked corporate apartments I quickly realized how having less things allowed me live a fuller and much happier life. Though the wanting to be reunited with my “things” eventually came to mind. Those thought quickly turned to anxiety when I realized much of that freedom I had experienced would soon be taken away by adding things I no longer wanted or needed.
Looking back at the last ten years and how many items I’ve purged through selling, donating or just plain throwing out. I can’t help but give myself somewhat of a pat on the back. Regardless, when I look at the big picture. It seems as if I’ve hardly made a dent. Reading books and watching videos about minimalism and people who freed themselves of years of material possessions to live happier lives with less things, less worries and less things to maintain. I’m both inspired and overwhelmed. Where do I start, where does it go and what is all this stuff worth anyway? With more questions than answers, I’ve decided to start my quest with a one day at a time approach. In the end, I feel luck to understand that my happiness doesn’t come from owning things. Happiness comes from experiences, travel and being around people I love. Once I realized that. The journey became a lot easier and the destination seemed so much clearer.
While my wife and me are nowhere near retirement age. Our thoughts about the next step and where we see ourselves in the future remains a constant topic of conversation. More and more these days. I find myself looking to simplify my life. Less things, less people and less worry about the things that keep my mind occupied from one day to the next. When I look at the future. I see myself living in an environment opposite to the one I’ve lived most of my life. Another country, a different culture and mindset. Something close to the water, the country or even a farm. True, the future is unwritten. However, that will never stop my from composing the script.