“Living Deliberately Project”
We began this blog with the challenge of doing at least 1 race a month for a year. Over the past year the blog has evolved as we have chosen to embrace a more minimalist ethos in all aspects of our lives, and to share the ideas of minimalism here on the blog. With that in mind, the impetus for this new challenge stems from a phrase found in Henry David Thoreau’s Walden: the idea that one should “live deliberately.” To live deliberately is to live consciously, to be aware of how you live and what you bring into your life.
The challenge is this: to purchase only those things that are a necessity or are needed for an emergency.
Let’s try and break it down one time.
Starting with frivolous things: we will not buy any trinkets; no tsotchkes; no super-awesome-whisk just because we want it; no throw pillows, clothes, hair ties, or dvds; no Vibrams; no TOMS; no purses or bags for Katie; no new coats for Jon.
What are necessities? We will only purchase items like deodorant, shampoo, Chapstick, toothpaste, Borax, hand soap—when they have been completely depleted. Unless something breaks or is worn out we will not buy another one of it—no more having two of things around just to have them around. (Gas for traveling to and from work or to and from our relatives counts here as well.)
Food: this is a given. But we will stick to a list and not shop or spend absentmindedly.
What constitutes an emergency? Sicknesses (ours or canine); car troubles.
The idea is to literally buy nothing beyond what is needed, (and as a by-product to see how much we are able to save in the process).
Now this is a challenge for the new year, and we will begin it when the ball drops to ring in 2013. That being said, there are few loose ends that need to be tied up.
- Katie is a professional—she is in need of some new work pants, but hasn’t found the right ones yet.
- Jon tried to purchase a running vest back in November but it has been backordered until February.
- We are trying to rid our cupboard of plastics; as such, we have every intention of purchasing glass water bottles asap.
As we understand it, to live deliberately means to limit the material things that bring fleeting joy into our lives and to focus on the experiences that bring infinite joy into our lives. Katie will still pay for yoga; Jon will still pay for race fees. We will, however, have an allotment of $80 every month to use on things like food out (including even the occasional coffee or bagel out); libations; movies; museum trips, etc.
If we really feel that we need something (e.g., clothing) we will wait until birthdays and ask for gift cards to help purchase it.
To keep all of you informed of our progress we will be keeping a permanent page with a running-account of each week’s progress. There we will keep a running-log of how we did for that week. We will also post a link back to this permanent page for anyone who wants to see a longer, more detailed description of the project.
We want to invite anyone who reads this to try living deliberately along with us. For a week; for a month (or months)—try to not buy “stuff” along with us. If you take the challenge drop us a comment and tell us how you are doing. We can even feature different guest posts of other people’s experiences.
Seriously you guys, we are not going to buy anything. Come along and try this new adventure with us.
We will end by having Thoreau sum up what we hope to experience and learn in the next year:
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”
-Henry David Thoreau