"He was completely irritated at the world because he had all these trappings of success—which no one he admired also admired—and he absolutely wasn't getting anywhere. And he thought that was tremendously unfair.
But the truth of the matter was that, had he put down what he was carrying for even a moment, then he would have been able to get where he wanted to go."
I am absolutely stunned at the truth of this parable in my life. I am the boy with the ruby, aging fast but progressing slowly in life as I carry so much weight. My treasures: An expensive car, all this stupid vintage guitar gear, expensive camera equipment...
"He had all these trappings of success—which no one he admired also admired"—I built my blog's following by showing off all of the expensive vintage and boutique guitar stuff I was able to buy. Every week a new toy to review, conventions and shows to go to, and meetings with custom builders. People ate it up. I was their hero, but my heroes didn't care at all.
My biggest hero, my dad, never cared that I was becoming successful among bloggers in the guitar gear community. I seek his validation over anyone else and my endless buying and blogging and bragging about guitar equipment has always kind of baffled him.
And my friends—outside of the gear world—never cared. In fact, they thought it was a little stupid, actually. "Why don't you stop buying gear and invest that money? buy a house?"
The boy in this parable is unable to move about freely because of his burdensome treasure. So he shuffles through the sludge, feeling the full weight of the world in every step. When you tire, as you're walking or hiking or running, you begin to look at the ground—your gaze is torn from the future, from the horizon. All you can care about is working up the energy for the next step.
This is a metaphor for anxiety. Brian Eichelberger sang, "When I'm looking at the ground, it's an inbred feedback loop that drags me down." The psalmist said, "I lift my eyes up to the mountain, where my help comes from. I look to God, he will not let my foot slip." If I drop my burdensome treasures, I'll be free to focus on the future, focus on something other than myself.
The boy is unable to chase business ventures with a friend because of his burdensome treasure. If I were to drop the burdensome treasures I've carried so long, I'll be free to seize life's opportunities. This past month, two friends have asked me to join them in new endeavors. Both opportunities sounded incredible. I've had to turn both down because I have so much to pay for in installments each month (Jeep, student loans, stupid music gear that I buy on payments).
I'm this boy.
I'm a fool.
My "treasures" are taking my life away. I'm not a minimalist. I'm not living intentionally. This blog is a lie. I'm a liar and a fool. I'm going to go sell all this garbage, pay off the credit card, really attack the student loans, and I'm going to get out from under my Jeep that I adore but that I never should have bought.
It's not enough to clean out your closet and call yourself a minimalist. To wear the same things everyday and call yourself a minimalist. To put yourself on a spending plan and call yourself a minimalist. To reduce down to one $4,500 guitar instead of three $1,500 guitars and call yourself a "minimalist guitarist." To blog and call yourself a minimalist.
My version of minimalism is just justified consumerism. I'm just now waking up to the realization that one year after starting this blog and this journey, I'm just living a different lie. I traded "more, more, more" for "better, better, better."
Last month I wrote about perspectives, I wrote: "I want to know how you're actually living." Want to know how I'm actually living?
I wanted a guitar so I bought it on payments. I wanted a camera so I bought it on payments. I wanted an amplifier and my credit card was paid off so I went ahead and put it on the card. I wanted podcasting equipment so I bought it all on payments. Ten years ago I wanted school but I couldn't afford to go to the best private college in the U.S. for the field I wanted to study so I signed my name to loans—and when it all fell apart what was I left with? Payments.
I work to pay the bills. I have very little left over. I take the leftovers and buy stupid guitar stuff to try and squeeze a tiny bit of joy out of life because without this instrument, it's just all payments. It's hustle, pay, hustle, pay, hustle, pay—with the life I dream of just out of reach. My life has to change and it has to change NOW.