Life Experiment: 30 Posts in 30 Days in 30 Minutes or Less

In an effort to fight off creative boredom and get my writing chops chopping (chomping?) with more regularity, I'm embarking on a 30-day writing commitment here on BarryMorris.net.

I have no plan for this other than to just crank out a daily post for the next 30 days and see how it feels. I have no topic plan, length of post plan, nothing.

Oh, and I can spend no longer than 30 minutes on each post, from inception to publication. Yeah, baby...this is serious stuff.  :lol: 

I'm also going to include original photography in each post, starting with the photo above of my desk at work that I took a few minutes ago. (I'm still successfully avoiding the use of my employer-issued PC laptop).

Each photo will capture a piece of my daily experience. They may not all be gorgeous photos, but they will be all be in black and white in keeping with the motif.

I'm all about the motif. Motif...yeah, I like that word. It just begs to be italicized, don't you think?

I know, you're thrilled

But please, try to contain yourself. 

This is going to be like Julia Cameron's morning pages exercise except my whiny stream-of-consciousness type thoughts will be shared to the world or rather my 600+ readers...a number that I actually don't believe it accurate judging from the lack of comments on my past posts.

Of course, that could just mean I write crap that no one cares about. Whatever. I write for my own sense of gratification anyway. :roll:

This isn't the first time I've done this. When I first read Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, I embarked on a similar project, but those writings weren't published. But you have to love her guidelines for daily writing practice:

  1. Keep your hand moving (or typing my case)
  2. Loose control
  3. Be specific
  4. Don't think
  5. Don't worry about punctuation, grammar, or spelling (I'll ignore this one)
  6. You are free to write the worst junk in America
  7. Go for the jugular

Where did this idea originate?

No clue. Actually, I do know. I was thinking this morning about how Ev Bogue used to post each day to his minimalist blog, Far Beyond the Stars, in the days before he kind of went off into the wilderness to recreate the decentralized web on a used Chromebook. It's a long story.

This was at a time when minimalism was unique and living with less was intriguing. Now it feels like no one gives it much credence beyond the minimalist celebrities among us.

Perhaps the idea was in the ether and I inhaled...unlike Bill Clinton. OK, that's it...enough bad jokes.

See you tomorrow for my first post du jour

Combining Business and Motorcycle Travel Requires a Minimalist Mindset

For the past two weeks, I've been working in a mobile, make-shift office setting. Not in a trendy, We Work shared office space (though I'd love to try that out sometime), but from remote locations away from my office in Costa Mesa, California.

Last week, along with a couple of coworkers, operated from a business partner's conference room in Salt Lake City, Utah while closing out a project. This week I've been working from Karen's kitchen table in San Jose, California...or as I refer to it, the Cambrian Park satellite office in Greater San Jose.

My minimalist set up for the past two weeks has been what you see pictured above. My 15-inch 2015 MacBook Pro and that's it. No mouse, no external keyboard, no 27-inch Apple monitor... just the MacBook Pro.

Before I left my office in Costa Mesa, I debated taking my Apple Magic Mouse and full-size Apple keyboard, as well as my 12-inch iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. I opted to take only the MacBook.

In the past, I've traveled for work with all of these items (save the 27-inch Apple monitor - it's a tad bulky). Each provides a useful and singular function, but this time I had to consider a lighter than usual carry...

... because everything I took to Salt Lake City I'd eventually be carrying back to California on a motorcycle.

Um, what?

Part of my plan for the conclusion of the Salt Lake City trip was to fly from Salt Lake City to San Jose to see Karen as we had plans for the weekend. I make this travel detour when my travel coincides with our commitment to see one another every two to three weeks. It provides us both the opportunity to see one another for an extra day prior to my jumping on a Southwest or Alaska one-way flight home on a Sunday.

I had another reason for flying to San Jose: it's where my BMW 1150GS motorcycle has been garaged for nearly a year. If everything went according to plan, I'd replace its dead battery, pack it up with my clothing and other essentials, and enjoy a two-day ride to southern California. 

The photo above demonstrates the maximum storage capacity of the bike and even though I took only a 20-inch rolling suitcase and a backpack with me to Salt Lake City, I knew I'd have to be creative in packing since the bike's luggage is already holding road essentials: a battery charger, a portable air compressor, minimal tools, and some extra gloves for cooler temperatures...because southern California winters are so frigid.  :roll: 

I'll leave the suitcase behind with Karen and pack my clothes into either my backpack or in the large Wolfman waterproof bag that will sit directly behind me on the bike.

I've missed riding

I've missed riding and being part of the two-wheeled world.

There is an unspoken camaraderie among motorcycle riders on the road; we drop our left hand from the handlebar and give a two-fingered peace sign as we approach a rider riding the opposite direction; we share parking spaces, are instant friends at roadside fuel stops and cafes when the helmets are off; and we always stop when another rider appears stranded on the side of the road.

There was a time when I lived in Santa Cruz County, two blocks from the beach when a motorcycle was my sole mode of transportation. It suited my needs at the time. These days, at nearly 61, I like having the comfort of a small SUV on occasion and my 2006 Ford Escape is perfectly suited for these needs.

Before minimalism

If I'd been in this situation before I adopted minimalism as a lifestyle choice, I can imagine how different the experience would've been.

Before minimalism, I would most likely have had a very different experience: I'd have packed too many clothes and computer peripherals, become frustrated when confronted with the reality of not having enough storage space for it all on the bike, and then spent money to ship home most of what I packed, representing needless frustration and expense.

Before minimalism, I would have probably made two separate trips because of the necessity of bringing my motorcycle tools to have on the ride home. (Since I needed to bring my tools from my home in Irvine to San Jose where my bike was located, and the TSA doesn't allow tool longer than seven inches inside a carry on bag, I had to twice check my rolling suitcase, at a $30 expense each time (SNA to SLC and SLC to SJC). By combining the two trips into one, I saved the expense of a one-way flight, and potentially two if I was unable to get the bike running again.

Before minimalism, I wouldn't have stopped to consider my essential needs. I'd have just plowed ahead and packed two suitcases with everything I might potentially need: mouse, keyboard, iPad, Pencil, and their associated chargers. I'd have ignored the 20-20 Rule that states anything I might potentially need is obtainable for less than $20 or within a 20-minute time frame and brought everything instead.

Tomorrow I depart

It's Saturday as I finish writing this post and tomorrow I'm set to leave San Jose and Karen behind and embark on a two-day ride to Orange County. As a younger man, I could do this ride in a single day—in fact, two years ago when I rode across the US and back with my son Benjamin, we rode from San Jose to Needles, California, arriving well after dark and totally exhausted—but these days, I choose to ride no more than four or five hours and then spend the night. Tomorrow night my target is to spend the night in Pismo Beach and enjoy a nice dinner, maybe catch the sunset, too.

I'll spend a few hours this morning deciding on what to pack and what to leave behind. For example, I have a ThermaRest self-inflating sleeping pad for camping that I'm leaving here for Karen's daughter to use as she's a big fan of camping..like sleeping on the cold, hard ground kind of camping.  I'll never use it again, but it's too good to just toss.

I'll pack the essentials for the bike, my clothing, and see where I stand. I think I've planned accurately enough, but the process is always enjoyable to see how everything fits, kind of like a puzzle.

In another post, I wrote about how it's possible to live as we travel, just with the essentials. I find motorcycle and business travel to be very similar in this regard. Not everyone shares my view, as I've seen hair dryers, curling irons, and portable fans making the cut for weekend trips. 

Everyone on TV is a Minimalist

Have you ever noticed that nearly every living room on television looks like a minimalist lives there?

Except for perhaps the households belonging to The Conners, 'Merica's most popular dysfunctional family, or apartments filled beyond capacity with millennial roommates like the world's favorite collection of nerds in The Big Bang Theory, most of the living spaces you see on television are minimal in their arrangement, nearly museum-like in their appearance.

There's open space on every counter, the table tops are clear of clutter, and bedrooms are like the sanctuaries we wish ours were. Kitchen countertops shine, hardwood floors gleam, and dirty dishes are a myth.

Is there something Hollywood knows that the rest of us don't?

Hollywood knows what we like

I'm not saying that we'd all like to be minimalists. That's an individual decision each of us makes on our own. However, what the master marketers in Hollywood know is that we all share an appreciation for the spaciousness of a clutter-free environment.

Whether we live like The Minimalists or like The Conners, we all feel more peaceful when we're in a pristine hotel room. As soon as walk in we feel more peaceful and serene.  The bed is made, the surfaces are clear, and the floors are clean.

If only we could live like this.  8-)

The vibration of all things

Everything on earth vibrates with an inherent energy. Mountains vibrate, desert plants vibrate, even your books vibrate. We can't audibly hear the sound they make, but our bodies perceive their energy and translate it physiologically and psychologically as stress. Most people are immune to these energy fields, while others, HSPs like me, are attuned to and feel the energy more than most. 

The more things you surround yourself with, the more likely you are to feel depressed, overly tired, and prone to illness. Conversely, the fewer things in your immediate surroundings, the lighter you feel, the happier you are, and the more healthy you're likely to become.

I've seen this play out in my own life. I'm probably the healthiest I’ve been in decades. I don't think it's any coincidence that I've simultaneously never lived with so few belongings. In contrast, I've seen members of my family struggle with both mental and physical illness, chronic fatigue, and mood swings and to a person, all were surrounded by decades worth of stuff.

Stuff isn't bad, but too much stuff is simply unhealthy for everyone.

Be the TV star of your own life

Your home or office can be just like your favorite home on HGTV if you really want it to be. You can make your bedroom into the calming place you've always wanted.

You can be the star of your own life and live in the luxury or a minimalist home.

Here's a way to get started.

Will I Ever Own a New Car?

Not long ago I was considering financing a new car. I've never purchased a new car from a dealer before and I've secretly always wanted a Ford F150 truck. I must be a guy thing, I don't know, but I thought to myself...

"You know, Baz...you've never owned a brand new vehicle and at age 60, well let's just say it's time, right?"

Damn right, I agreed. Even my BMW 1150GS motorcycle that I rode across the US (and back) in the summer of 2016 is a 2000 model. So, I'm kind of due for something shiny and new.

I'm not one to rush into a big purchase. However, once I make up my mind about one, I can seldom be deferred.

When I decided to re-enter the motorcycling world about five years ago, it only took me six months to ride home on my first BMW (used, of course). Then when I upgraded to a second BMW 1100RT (think cop bike) and later my BMW 1150GS, I did so without much delay, and again, purchased older models.

I considered it for about two months before deciding against it. It wasn't a matter of price, nor was it due to any other factor that one might attribute to cost, such as additional insurance premiums, parking, maintenance, etc.

So why the change in heart?

While my change in attitude about getting a shiny new truck surprised me, after sitting with the idea for a few months, I actually wasn't all that surprised.

Sounds weird, I know. But here's why.

I've changed.

Minimalism has changed me, and for the better.

Some backstory

The 2006 Ford Escape XLT that you see at the top of this post was passed on to me by my mother after my father passed away last year. It was the last vehicle he purchased. He purchased it with cash as he eschewed having monthly payments if they weren't necessary.

My mother had given up driving about ten years prior, and when my dad was forced to also relinquish his driving privileges, he didn't go quietly into the placid population of non-driving seniors. He fought it bitterly, even begged his doctor—who'd just diagnosed him with Alzheimer's dementia—to break with her legal obligation to send his diagnosis to the California state Department of Motor Vehicles.

He knew it would result in no longer being able to drive and, from his perspective, it represented the loss of his independent mobility. Like I said, he didn't go quietly.

Since I was his caregiver for the last two years of his life, and although it wasn't specified in my father's will, my mother decided she wanted me to have his silver Escape. I had only the BMW 1150GS for transportation at the time and had been driving their cars to and from doctor's appointments and shopping for the last two years that I'd taken care of my dad.

When I later moved to Orange County in southern California in 2017 (a land of with as many pristine, sandy beaches as there are tanned plastic surgery patients), I drove the Escape and left my motorcycle garaged in San Jose.

Fast Forward to Today

When I realized that my heart and mind had changed about obtaining a new vehicle, it wasn't due to any sentimental value attached to my dad's memory. Although I'm grateful for having this extension of his presence at this time, I could just as easily let it go.

Nothing is permanent and there will come a time when it needs to be replaced. But that day is not today.

My memories of my father aren't attached to his SUV, or photos I have of him on various devices, nor in any other physical possession. They live in my mind and heart.

Minimalism brought me to this place

Recently, after a particularly long workday, I exited my office building and walked in solitude across the Noguchi Garden in Costa Mesa and into the parking structure where my SUV was parked.

I paused for a few seconds and looked at it where it stood alone, having been abandoned by other vehicles, and realized how silly the idea of replacing it really was.

It has 80,000+ miles on the engine. It runs like a charm (knock on wood), the air conditioning works great as does the radio and CD changer (though I don't actually own any CDs...but maybe for guests, you know?)

I looked at my smallish four-door SUV and felt a sense of peace about my decision.

It was like little cartoon versions of Joshua and Ryan of The Minimalists with halos had appeared on my shoulder and gently whispered..."Will a new truck, car, or motorcycle really change anything in your life, Baz?" ...and poof, they were gone.  :lol: 

And, of course, changing my vehicle wouldn't change anything in my life. I'd own a new truck, but I'd also own a new a truck payment and I'm perfectly content with not having one of those. Plus, it is enough for me.

Minimalism changes how you think

This experience can only arise from a sense of satisfaction with what one has. Other's might argue that they, too, are deferring the purchase of a new vehicle, perhaps because of cost or interest rates or some other factor, and feel that my experience isn't any different.

But I'd argue that the decision to hold off purchasing anything because of cost has its roots in the regret evoked by the surrender to the limits of one's financial resources.

I, too have limited financial resources. However, the difference is the surrender I experienced isn't one tinged with regret, but liberally splashed with gratitude.

Gratitude for what I have and knowing that it is enough.