I can’t call myself minimalist anymore. Once upon a time I lived in the utility closet of my fitness studio. I didn’t own a car. I owned little clothing — a few shirts and a few pairs of shorts. I didn’t even have a kitchen — just a hot plate and a microwave oven. I owned a single plate, a bowl, a knife, fork, and a spoon.
Times were good and I felt like I wasn’t draining the world — I was taking less than I was giving.
Though I owned all the equipment in my fitness studio, that was my livelihood. When the day came to move both my studio and my residence to my current house, I needed a truck to move the fitness equipment, but my living possessions — those things I needed to get by from day-to-day, fit into a single box.
Four years later not too much has changed. Still, I feel less like a minimalist today than I did when I made this transition. The vacuum created by living in a house versus a utility closet has called for me to own more. More on that later.
I qualify this by saying if not for the addition of hosting my mother, I would probably still live in that utility closet or in a small motorhome. However, elderly parents don’t usually do too well in motorhomes and even worse in utility closets. This was a compromise I made with myself on my mother’s behalf and I have no regrets.
Much of what fills the house we share belongs to her. For me, there has been little temptation to add more. Since my mother is currently in training to become a hoarder, and is doing quite well with that, she supplies our basics and beyond. As I feel guilty that I even live in a house rather than a closet, I don’t carry that guilt too far since mom is the one who has made a hobby out of collecting candlesticks, jewelry boxes, coffee mugs, shoulder bags, crappy oil paintings, and cheap statues from the local thrift shops.
The last time my mother threw anything away, other than a food rapper, was in 1968. I’m pretty sure that’s the opposite of minimalism. Still, we’re doing okay despite different values with regard to owning things.
The Bedroom And The Bikes…
I now have a bedroom for the first time in years. That means I also have a closet for my clothes. With such an expense in my storage options, I have purchased a few extra pairs of shorts and a few extra shirts, though I generally wear the same things from day to day.
Wanting to keep my connection to minimalism real, rather than move into that bedroom, I use the closet only. For the last few years I’ve continued to sleep on an air mattress at night on the floor of my fitness studio, just as I did when my home was a storage closet. Each morning, before my workday begins, I deflate the air mattress and tuck it away where it can’t be seen — in my shower behind the curtain.
With all that unused space in my bedroom, and with me only using the closet, I found it to be a great place to store my bikes. And that’s where the breakdown in my minimalism has mostly manifest — that I now have a bedroom full of bikes. Let’s be honest, it’s not a bedroom, it’s a bike room.
I guess I somehow I’ve rationalize that owning 6 or 8 bicycles is acceptable since I don’t own much of anything else. When I think about it though, I probably don’t need more than 2 or 3 bikes. Well, maybe 4. Okay 5, but nobody needs to own more than 5 bicycles, of that I’m certain. I mean, unless they all get used. If they all get used then you probably need all of them. Eight bikes max, but that’s it. Okay, the 9th one might be on its way, but please don’t tell my ex-wife.
I did purchase a car after mom moved in with me. It’s the first car I’ve owned since I gave away my Jeep in 2006. I purchased the car, a used Prius, so I can get mom around — to get groceries, to medical appointments, to thrift stores, and so-on. I vowed when I purchased the car that I would use it only for my mother and to transport my dog back-and-forth for our daily walks at a local nature preserve. Aside from those tasks, I would remain a bicycle commuter.
Since the local grocery store and hardware store are each less than a couple thousand yards from my front door, I had planned to always walk or ride one of my bikes when I needed to purchase something. In the nearly 4 years I have lived here, I have not once walked or ridden for local errands — not once.
That needs to change…!
I can dedicate at least one bike and equip it with racks to haul anything I might need from any of the local shops. This will happen before the week is over.
Since I have more of a yard and then I did living in the utility closet, and because I enjoy gardening, I have begun to purchase yard tools. Nothing fancy and nothing with engines or motors, just a standard rake, shovel, hoe, hedge clippers, etc. I’ve even had to carve out space to store the yard tools.
The Other Tools…
For most of my adult life, I have owned a small socket-set that fits in my hand, a hammer, and a reversible Phillips-head/flat-head screwdriver. That has been my entire collection of tools. Take away my man-card if you must, but that’s all I’ve ever needed. I think I owned a drill once, but can’t remember where I left it or if I ever even used it.
Own a lot of bikes though, and if you start collecting bicycles, you’re going to need a lot of bicycle tools. I now have a tool bench in my bike room and another one out back on the patio, and I own pretty much every required bicycle tool, including some duplicates so I don’t have to walk back-and-forth between the bike room in the patio.
I’m not sure how I feel about any of this, except maybe a little bit dirty because I feel like I own too much, and that seems to be on the increase.
My goal is still to retire to a small motorhome, and to do so within the next 7 or 8 years. Retiring to a motorhome has been, not just a goal, but a dream since I was a teenager. I’ve just never wanted anything more in minimalism than that — to simply live with the smallest of footprints.
A lot of people I know will roll their eyes at what I consider a dream. That’s okay. I’ve got a screw loose, I’m certain, but the idea of finding it and tightening it at this point, is far beyond me.
Someday that minimalist retirement will be here for me. I won’t have a need for yard tools. I won’t have a need for a yard. I’ll still have a need for 8 or 9 bikes though, so I guess it’s not gonna be that small of a motorhome after all.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
This Week By The Numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 5
15.3 mph avg
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there is this from the incomparable Chris Whitley. Enjoy…
3 thoughts on “I Light Up My Life, Kind Of…”
This was fun to read, Roy!
Hey, everybody is entitled to peacefully live any screw-loose life they want as long as it doesn’t harm others. On your bikes. When you mentioned that you were going to chose one of them to be a hauler, I felt this pang of sadness come over me. If I was a bike, I would want to be going full bore along the roadway with my bike-faced rider’s exhilaration crowning the ride! Maybe you can get another bike that was bred for labor.
Isn’t it interesting how in life how we continually teach our parents, and they us?
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Funny, and I mean this, after I wrote this I walked into the room to look at which bike I would use to be my hauler. The obvious choice was the mountain bike I bought four months ago that has exactly 19 miles on it because I don’t do any mountain biking. But then, that would be a waste of a good mountain bike, so I started looking at cargo bikes on eBay. To be continued…
From day 1 I’ve known you to be one living within your means. Stay true to yourself and keep doing your thing.
When Susan and I attending church in town,I never forget the African who was here on a missionary visit, he spoke sharing his testimony. Staying with a host family, he was astonished in the American western ways of living having two or more of many possessions: 2 pairs of shoes,2 cars, etc… He lives a life of necessity with bare minimums. Many of us are Blessed beyond our means.
So save up for the Chinook with bike racks.
Thank you again for today’s spoke and words❣️
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