3 Lessons from a Guy with 39 Possessions
Self-described vagabond and minimalist Andrew Hyde travels the world, writes, does graphic design, starts companies and owns 39 things–a list that includes everything from toothbrushes to a car. Most items are things like shirts, a computer, phone and some camping gear (Hyde is pictured above with his possessions, less car).
He defines what he owns as “resellable items I would be pissed if someone took.” Coffee cups don’t make the list. His iPhone does.
Hyde received a lot of attention earlier this year as the guy who owns 15 things. Though his new, larger item number is not quite as dramatic, his newer list is still very slim. It’s also more comprehensive; he includes socks and underwear where he had not before.
While his paucity of possessions and peripatetic lifestyle is certainly not for everyone, Hyde has much to teach:
- Fewer choices are freeing. Asked which shirt Hyde picks in the morning, he replies, “The clean one.” How much time and mental effort do you spend choosing what shoes to wear, what movie to watch, what dish to cook? Choice is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is often overvalued, especially related to things that aren’t aligned with what’s really important in our lives–things like relationships, health and recreation.
- If you have fewer things, make them good. As Sarah Laskow wrote in Grist, living light doesn’t mean living cheap. Hyde’s possessions are all very high quality. Paring down means choosing stuff that holds up and looks good. If you have 3 shirts, you can’t afford to have that one shirt that doesn’t fit right.
- Sometimes you will not be prepared…and it’s okay. You likely won’t trim your possessions to Hyde-ian proportions, but that doesn’t mean you have to everything for every occasion. Americans in particular like to be prepared for the worst-case-scenario, having separate cookie cutters for Christmas and Halloween. We seldom consider how negligible the consequences are when we run out of something or are unprepared. Nor do we consider how high the consequences are for being over-prepared: creating more money, space, upkeep and mental clutter.