In the Japanese minimalist circle, listing stuff you own or don’t own is quite a fad. The impetus appears to be to gain self-awareness about one’s values and priorities, but there’s certainly an undeniable element of voyeuristic fun for the reader, which is probably a part of why the lists are popular among minimalist bloggers: They bring page views, and page views bring ad revenue.
Though I don’t get revenue from this blog, I’m curious what I’d discover about myself through listing what I don’t own. So. Here’s a quick list of things I don’t own:
- Hair dryer: Call me a slob. I can’t take the heat and don’t care about my appearance that much. (To be fair, I’m probably born lucky with hair that doesn’t go crazy without hair dryers.)
- Microwave: I don’t need one, and I don’t have the space in my 600 sq place.
- Rice cooker: You don’t need one. Pot on a stove does a better job faster anyway.
- Most makeup-related things: See above on hair dryer. I have a lipstick I never use, a MUJI all-in-one moisturizer and a tub of Nivea. That’s it.
- Laundry machine: One thing on this list I wish I owned.
- iPhone case: Nude is the best.
- Car: Also I don’t have car insurance, alternate parking nuisance, oil changes, inspections, breakdowns, gas expenses and car taxes. I also don’t have the freedom to drive out on a whim on a weekend, which sucks, but Car2Go and rental cars are good enough.
- House: I can’t afford the expense in much of NYC within manageable commute from work. Plus, I strongly suspect neither I nor Flaneur are made for home ownership (read: Did I mention I’m a slob? I’m also decidedly not handy, with too many other fun things to do than mow the lawn and fix the window leak, or whatever).
- Landline phone: I don’t need one except for catastrophic emergencies.
- Cats: Another thing on this list I wish I owned. Maybe more than a laundry machine.
I suppose I don’t own a private jet or a chalet in the Swiss Alps, either, but I think that’s kind of implied.
Coming up with a list of things I don’t own was actually pretty hard. The first three came to me quickly, but after that, it took a bunch of thinking, and placing myself in different rooms to imagine what a typical person would have in each room. To me, not owning a hair dryer is so completely normal that I don’t ever think about it (until I need one to remove the stick-on mount for my Moment telephoto lens for the iPhone… Grr). This listing exercise perhaps makes it visible that my normal is not everyone’s normal, and attempting to look at my normal from the viewpoint of other “normals” creates a distance and awareness about what I value and don’t value in stuff. Theoretically.
This was definitely an interesting experiment, though I’m not sure if I learned anything other than what I already know about myself–that I’m usually motivated by sloth, find it fun to improvise without resorting to unitaskers, generally dislike spending time and money on appearance beyond making myself look good in my own eyes (and I guess I have lowish standards, haha). I’m thinking of doing another list, for things I/we own but I would like to try living without. Now that might be interesting.