Arbitrary Numbers

I love Everett Bogue’s blog, Far Beyond the Stars. It has made it’s way into my reader and stayed there for some time now. He’s an inspiration for minimalists, entrepreneurs, and bloggers. That’s why a recent post, How to Create an A-List Minimalist Blog, really caught my attention. I’ve read this post a number of times now, taken notes from it, created a to-do list based on it, and shared it with some blogging friends. However, I feel that one of Everett’s statements is wrong.

Everett recently turned off comments on his blog during a vacation, and decided to leave them off. As soon as I read his post, I wanted to leave him a comment about his incorrect statement, but couldn’t. So I let it pass. However, I continue to think about what he said, and finally decided to follow his advice.

Everett’s Incorrect Statement

So, what was this heinous statement that Mr. Bogue made?

Living with less than 50 things is a good benchmark for most people these days,
if you’re into counting your stuff.

It may be a silly, personal annoyance, but I don’t like this statement. I feel that he chose an arbitrary number, that even he doesn’t conform to.

Everett does not meet his own benchmark. Does this mean he isn’t a minimalist? Of course not! He’s one of the leaders in the movement! He lives with less so that he can live and work anywhere in the world. Minimalism makes his lifestyle possible.

Why I dislike it

I feel that this number was chosen just because it is less than the common 100 Things. In short, he chose it for shock value.

Unfortunately, while I know that living with only 50 things is possible, I feel that it is too limiting. The average person has a whole house full of stuff (and likely a garage and storage unit). In order to stand out today, living with only 100 things is sufficient. In fact, while living with only 100 things might seem common today, I feel safe in saying that these bloggers are the minimalist Olympians.

Why I like it

At least Everett added on the final portion of this sentence. I love that he states this is not a requirement.

… if you’re into counting your stuff

To be a minimalist, you don’t have to count your stuff. In fact, unless you are just making up rules, minimalism isn’t about stuff, or how much of it you might have.

According to Joshua Becker, minimalism is about “the intentional promotion of the things you most value and the removal of anything that distracts you from it.” You’ll notice that he doesn’t mention possessions anywhere in his definition. While you may value something that you own, you may also value your relationships, activities, or even work. Likewise, it may not be possessions that distract you, but bad relationships, time-wasting activities, or (yes) even work.

Everette may admit that he views minimalism as being able to put all of his possessions into a backpack, but he has also acknowledged that this isn’t for everyone. He knows that numbers aren’t the important metric for one’s life.

Final Thoughts

I know that this specific post was written to those who wish to be the leaders in the minimalist movement, and leaders need to be examples. I want to fill that role, but I am not concerned with how much, or how little, stuff I have. Instead I feel that the important things in my life should be the focus, while letting the others fall away. I would hate to see minimalism become a numbers game! I feel that Everett would agree with me wholeheartedly.

2 thoughts on “Arbitrary Numbers

    • Matthew says:

      Exactly! It can be helpful to have a set of guidelines to work toward, in order to get “jump started.” However, rules for the sake of rules are a horrible idea.

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