We Don’t Have To Be Minimalist

This weekend I have been on a huge adventure — without ever leaving town!!! I have always loved motorcycles, and loved being a passenger, but had never driven one myself. Now I have learned and practiced the basics in a 2-day FDOT-approved course. It was definitely an adventure. All five of us in the class passed our written test and checkout exercises, and are now allowed to have the motorcycle endorsement added to our driver’s licenses.

There is a lot to motorcycle riding. From what I experienced, piloting a motorcycle has some things in common with riding a bicycle, and other things in common with driving a stickshift car. And still other things in common with neither one of those!!

Besides caring about cost and eco-footprint, I am extremely safety-minded when it comes to riding any kind of vehicle on the road. Taking this class — where the riding area was a large empty parking lot marked with cones and lines to simulate lanes, etc. — was a safe way to satisfy my curiosity about motorcycle riding.

I may purchase a motorcycle one day, but even if I never do, this was a wonderful experience and I’m glad I allowed myself to do it.

General note: Taking a class is a relatively low-cost, low-footprint way to explore just about anything you think you might be interested in!

So why am I bringing up my motorcycle class here on this blog? As an example of the idea that living a low-footprint life doesn’t have to involve renouncing all material pleasures and just sitting at home in a sparely furnished house. You can do that if you want, but you don’t have to.

Many people I talk with seem to equate low-footprint living with “minimalism”: having hardly any material possessions; relinquishing all but the strictly necessary. But that isn’t so.

Low-footprint is paring down things that add unnecessary cost (environmental, financial, or monetary) to our lives without adding value. A two-day motorcycle course added great value to my life, for minimal cost and probably only about a gallon of gasoline.

If your hobby is (for example) flying planes on a regular basis, you’re obviously going to be consuming more fuel, but you can still find ways to fit that into an overall low-footprint lifestyle.

The ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes was said to have lived in a large urn in order to reduce his overhead cost of housing. He had few possessions, one of which was a drinking cup. But one day, after he saw a boy drinking water out of his cupped hands, Diogenes threw away his cup.

That’s all well and good, but we don’t have to live like Diogenes in order to have a low footprint.

Don’t confuse low-footprint living with minimalism. Unless you are an aspiring minimalist, this is likely to make you feel very deprived, as well as inhibiting you from engaging in fulfilling hobbies that happen to require stuff (be it yarn, paint, wood, fishing gear, or what have you).

Also, I could be wrong but minimalist furniture doesn’t look very comfortable.

On my Twitter profile, I refer to myself as an “ornate minimalist.” I’m super picky about what stuff I choose to keep around. I wash my clothes by hand in a tub of rainwater, but don’t try to take away my massive bead collection!