So I recently started working at a local funeral home as a doorman for services. In the last seven days, I’ve been to more funerals and visitations than most people attend in their lifetime. For the most part, I’ve taken it in stride, and while they are definitely occasions of reverence, none have sort of shaken me until one I had been to this past weekend.

The deceased was young…not like early twenties young, but young enough to be unusual when compared to the usual clientele of the funeral home. The age in itself was enough to be mildly disturbing. But then during the homily for the funeral mass, the priest asked a question that seriously jarred me. “When it is time for this community to say goodbye to you, what will they say?” Basically the sermon was about legacy. And then the closing hymn was that song “Let There Be Peace On Earth,” and that was just kind of the last straw to get me a little emotional.

Anyway, then I started thinking about my own life. What if I died later on today? What if some freak accident took my life much sooner than I anticipated? What would happen? What kind of legacy would I have left behind? What kind of legacy do I want to leave behind? I have some food for thought this week.


Minimalism: Cutting the crap

So this post was originally going to be something along the lines of “Lessons I’ve learned as a college student” (which may still be the subject of a post later on. But then as I went on, a lot of my topics tended to trend towards minimalism. Probably thanks to the articles from Art of Manliness that I read last night. Looks like that’s more the direction that my mind is guiding me, so here are a few of my thoughts on minimalism.

1) Waste not, want not. For one, I have an apartment. I would like decent glassware. However, I do not want to put down the money to go buy a set of nice glasses. But I do eat pasta fairly regularly (because it’s cheap and I’m poor) and with that, I usually buy jars of sauce because I’m usually on a time crunch and need something fast. Well the brand I like (Clasico) sells their sauces in mason jars. Which when washed and the labels removed are suddenly trendy drinking vessels. Long Island iced teas come in them when your downtown. Pluckers serves their iced teas in them. Good enough for me. When I first started doing that, I was surprised at how many comments I got from people thinking that was “cool.” Frugality FTW. On another note, keep the lids. You’ve also got storage. Plus glass is much easier for me to get grease off of than Tupperware. In any case, 3 uses out of one thing, for a fraction of the price of buying all three and a fraction of the space having all three things takes up.

2) Cut the crap. This lesson is referring to physical (but not literal) crap. After helping numerous friends move over the years and doing my own deep clean out of my apartment, it’s surprising how much you can accumulate while living in one place. My latest discovery: “What made me think fuzzy dice was a good idea?” In any case, I’m in the process of moving to minimalism. I’m nowhere close, hence the “process” but I’m getting there. Made my first Goodwill run yesterday. General rule of thumb: if you haven’t touched it the entire semester, you don’t need it.

3) Are you really going to wear that? I’m all for having a selection of clothes. After all no one wants to wear the same thing all the time (says the boy going into a field where he’ll be wearing scrubs every day). But do you really need the 50 t-shirts sitting in your closet? Have you worn half of them in the last 6 months? Probably not. I made this realization and decided to downsize. I bought two sets of hangers for a total of 20. And any t-shirt that didn’t fit on those hangers got sent home. The rod on my side of the closet is no longer slightly bowed downward. It’s nice.

4) What does this even mean? So I am an extremely sentimental person to the point where it turns me into a bit of a pack rat. But half the time, I save all of these scraps and ticket stubs, and wristbands, and yadda yadda yadda, and then two weeks later, I’m just like why the hell did I keep this again? And enter another hobby of mine: scrapbooking. While it does tend to get a little expensive depending on how much you want to put into it, this is a good way to turn the box o’ random scraps of crap into a much more condensed way to house memories (i.e., something that can fit on a bookshelf). Not to mention you’ll actually remember why you saved it to begin with. No it’s not the most manly hobby, but I like having something like that to look at and make me feel better when I’m having a bad day.

5) Not so new and shiny anymore, is it? This is my new philosophy when it comes to buying things…when I have money to buy things that is: in 24 hours, am I still going to want this? You see something that catches your eye and you think that this would be an amazing thing to have. Yes new toy, exciting, I get it. But how long will it be before this new toy gets thrown in the corner or into a box never to see the light of day again? The best way for me to start cutting down things is to minimize bringing things in. Just like when you’re trying to lose weight, you only take in the foods that are most useful to your body without feeding your body a bunch of crap, your living space is the same way. Don’t stop buying things because you will have needs that do need to be filled. But show some restraint at the table with all the free stuff. Are you really going to use that coffee mug when you have 10 others sitting in your cabinet? Do you really want that shirt when you can barely fit anything else in your closet? Put it down and back away.

In any case, what it all boils down to is this: Does what I’m keeping a) serve any practical purpose or b) have extreme sentimental value at this point? Or are you just keeping things around for the sake of having it?