My Journey into Minimalism as a Black Entrepreneur
One would assume that minimalism should be a common practice in most Black American households due to systematic racism being a central tool that not only companies, but the U.S. government use to generate their wealth in a capitalist society. Quite a few of us often spend to fill a void of inadequacy that was programmed into us through deconstructive measures such as entertainment designed to exploit our insecurities, historic reminders placed to subliminally reinforce the concept of inferiority with celebratory platforms, and encouraging rivalry when more than one of us find success in a popular field. The less room there is to think, the more opportunities there are to divide and conquer as they unify their abundance of resources.
Meditation has always provided me room to think and I ultimately discovered minimalism from seeking out ways to declutter my lifestyle. Physically and mentally. I no longer wanted to be a slave to my impulses and desired the freedom of being a freelancer who could leave his home in America and live overseas for a-year-or-two, if he so chose to. This meant having to make a lot of changes while knowing that some of them might “shock” the people around me. Focus matters to me as much as clarity, and to help me stay on track, I started using Google Calendar to schedule a powerful daily routine. Everything was set based on how to not only optimize my free time but the best levels of performance that I noted when tasks were to be tackled. I feel amazing when I wake up. I am tired when I fall asleep. I’m well enough to go out for a run. My work hours don’t interfere with meal planning, personal projects, reading a good book, catching up on comics, or playing video games for a short period of time. I’m not surfing the internet and obsessed with social media like someone who is bored usually does. (Thank you again, Chrome Extension ‘Block Site’) I’m committed to accomplishing my goals because I’ve been “reprogrammed”.
Now, this is where I dive into controversial territory… as a lover of cinema, I pride myself in having a collection that expands well-over several hundreds of movies. However, just like my video games, I don’t keep their original cases or manuals. Every disc is inserted into a storage binder, and while I have a handful of them, they are each placed inside of one tote. At times, I’ve preferred physical copies in regard to my hobbies since I truly own them and not the developers or site if I were to go down the digital route. I don’t classify this as hoarding and more-so understandable concern about allowing control over what I paid to be my property. Books, on the other hand, I strive to digitalize outside of services and preferably in .PDF format. Beginning three years back, I created a list of every physical book that I had owned, and one-by-one sought to download digital copies to replace their existence. I’m not going to speak on copyright law, whether piracy is morally wrong, or mention the sites that I have used. I will say that after 400+ years of slavery…until we receive reparations, there is definitely a feeling of entitlement though. It always quelled the OCD that I have about seeing the condition of books. A lot of readers love a good scar on their pages. I just can’t deal with stains, dog ears, tears, or highlighting unless I paid less than nothing for it.
My living space as of late is comfortable. I’ve tossed the very old-ass large wooden dresser that I would keep my clothes in for a small nightstand, and have organized them in a couple of totes. I love jackets, so they take up the most space and I am still sorting out which t-shirts to donate or trash if tattered. The ones that I have been given for participating in races either will go or be gifted to my significant other. I have one pair of footwear for running, one pair of dress shoes, and casual ten-dollar Walmart shoes that are all placed neatly on a mat. Nothing fancy or expensive in comparison to what’s typically advertised as fashionable. My electronics, film-and-audio equipment are also in… you guessed it! A couple of totes. I structure what’s in them using an excel spreadsheet and finding what I need is never an issue! Of course, as my journey progresses, I’ll have less.
At night, I sleep on a black queen-size (3″ x 60″ x 80″) rolling Japanese futon mattress with a simple sheet, pillow, and a blanket. I don’t own any other lamp in my bedroom other than the small one on my office desk. If I need light, there’s a candle nearby.
Concerning meal prep’, I only eat twice-a-day, sometimes once depending on the portion of the meal and the activity that I need to train for. In hindsight, I should have fasted when I ran thirty-miles not too long ago, but when I focus on weight lifting, I relatively eat a lot. On the weekends, I save time when my lover cooks, so I’m thankful that she does so since I prefer not to eat out unless a special occasion warrants it. Then my options are limited to Loving Cafe, Salsa Grille, Three Carrots, or Mellow Mushroom if we are on the road. I do have moments where I will cheat… on my veganism and intake dairy if I’m absolutely hungry, so iHop becomes a restaurant on the available list. I try to steer clear of fast food joints, even though I’ll get a snack or two from the gas station if I’m low on fuel. Having a supportive circle allows my decision making in this department to be peaceful.
Peace… is what every man should expect and not ask for. If I have to ask for peace from certain family members, friends, or lovers, then they should not have a full-time position in my life. No position at all, if capable and necessary. I recall being nineteen and my girlfriend at the time once expressed her opinion that I saved money on gas because I “didn’t go anywhere”. I’ve had some people assume that I was “broke” because I would not spend money on what they wanted me to buy them or towards what they thought that I should. Even today, I’m still told this, and only by people who lack discipline and financial literacy. Believe it or not, I hate driving when I don’t have to and use music to distract my nerves. You’ll more than likely catch me on a bike or running because both are how I maneuvered the streets of Rochester, New York before I even had a license. I don’t ask for gifts nor surround myself with individuals who expect them from me. Some people from my life were removed over harassing me based on their belief that this should be an accepted form of showing “love” and when I disagreed, was promptly shamed for it. You should never have to pay a monetary tax for the sole purpose of maintaining an association with someone. An important lesson that I’ve also learned as a minimalist is to value time and memories. I cherish those and appreciate gifts. I take into consideration the thought behind them, however, my relationship with the giver matters more.
I’m not going to lie and say that my childhood, which I reference every chance that I get, had nothing to do with my mindset. I was born into an All-Black upper-middle-class family. I wanted for nothing. Those with nothing want everything, which is an oversimplification, but nonetheless speaks volumes when our only solution to poverty within Black communities is to merely circulate our wealth as if that’s not still capitalism. It’s a start. We are still spending over a trillion dollars due to habits that only we can alter, and pain that frivolous purchases or self-medicating will not heal. I still find myself guilty of buying a “shiny new toy” before saying to myself that I’ll take on another client to make-up for the cost or convince myself how “it’ll be used for business” when funds set aside for amusement doesn’t cover it. Mint’s ‘Budget Tracker & Planner’ is a great budgeting app for those interested.
In the case of flipping, the deliberation process in my head is similar. Is storing a $50 Thrift Store item a justifiable investment if I can potentially sell it for $100 after waiting on eBay for X-amount of weeks? Do I have enough capacity at my house in the meantime? If necessary, how much more would I have to invest to repair the item, and would it be worth it for the ROI (Return on Investment)? These are the questions that I ask myself.
On that note, I disagree that minimalism is for the well-off when the logic behind the practice is stripping away what doesn’t serve your mission. Hoarding does not provide reassurance in the event that you may need what you are collecting. As a bachelor, it is indeed not a big deal. The woman that I am with matches my views, so there is no conflict. I do agree that as a family man, there is less maneuverability to be had as a minimalist. I’m not suggesting that you will need to shower your children with the finer things in life like others commonly do because they did not grow up in fortunate circumstances. I am stating that no matter how you take care of, or raise them, there will be disorganized areas and sentimental attachments that both of you will deal with. They’re like tiny and sometimes slobbish college roommates that depend on your guidance for eighteen years. It’s not for the intolerant and requires patience on top of choosing a path for yourself in order to lessen stress.
Without taking the steps that I have, I honestly don’t believe that my introspection would have grown at the pace it has. The most important treasure that I own in life is an identity that isn’t bound by materialism or input that doesn’t motivate me to be closer to my next objective. The ambition is faithfully internal.