In one of my all-time favorite novels, The Sportswriter, Richard Ford hit me in the stomach with a line that I've been thinking about at least once a week since I first read it almost 20 years ago:
“You can never really rely on it out here. Life is against a common wind that could suddenly stop. "
Needless to say, we are currently living in a world where the wind has suddenly stopped.
Gone are the aspects of our life that we took for granted, such as career goals, vacation, "I" time, school for our children, expenses without care and the ability to go out into the world carefree. We have no promise when they will return.
It is disheartening and frustrating and frightening and every other emotion that each of us is experiencing has to accept that all the elements of our lives that we have relied on are gone.
You are gone.
If you are like me, you have struggled against this knowledge as long as you can believe that things will return to normal every moment. But they don't and they won't.
So here we are and we try our best every day to get from here to there in our head so that we feel safe and comfortable.
But there is none. There is only here.
I remember seeing a cartoon in The New Yorker that depicted the outer cartoon of a prison with a sign that said, "The imaginary prison where you will finally read all these books."
For minimalists, we've longed for this kind of quarantine slowdown and forced ourselves to focus on our home, our self, our health, our families, and our communities.
Here's what we've always wanted, and we can do our best to make sure we don't waste it by practicing the most basic principles of this way of life.
You don't need it.
If a few cents have to be pinched, the lens of need becomes ever narrower. Even our daily use of toilet paper has become a reason for debate.
There is no reason to put off what we were going to do. I write more … can't you say?
Stop the deliberate reaction overload.
We can avoid the inevitable response overload by stopping the constant beeps and warnings on all of our devices and focusing on slow media like books and recordings … or no media at all.
My here won't be yours. We cannot compare them because our heres cannot be divided into text, posts or videos. We only recognize and know our own reality.
Prepare for the worst.
I have no idea what the end game of the current pandemic will be or when it will take place. There is a degree of freedom in the uncertainty that everyone is in the same boat. We are balanced in our helplessness and fear. Let the worst case scenario in terms of timing be what you're preparing for. Another year? OK. Let's do this.
That's the moment.
I cannot say the future here either, but this moment feels like it is so rare. It is a time when we are really tested. Our systems are shocked and we can face the challenge or not. Challenge yourself to become even stronger in the values that are close to your heart, because after all you will be different. Will it be good or bad?
About the author: Greg Behr is a practicing minimalist who lives in Chapel Hill, NC. He brings his philosophy to less and is definitely more in his role as the father of two young daughters, husband of an amazing woman and co-owner of a successful strategic communications company, GBW Strategies. He writes to maintain his mental health and share best practices through his blog on medium.