All apologies for the recent radio silence. It’s due to the both of us working more than a lot while also juggling the worst man cold ever back and forth between us in never ending spirals of fever, snot and existential angst. We’ve also managed to pass it on to a number of friends. The general sentiment is that it goes on and on and on and is surprisingly vile. This morning I said to Kristoffer “It’s funny, but I do feel amazing underneath the cold. I’ve actually never felt this good.” He immediately knew what I meant and said he felt exactly the same – despite being sick and feeling terrible, we both experience a pronounced and heightened sense of well-being. So, why is that?
This blog is about our joint minimalist quest towards creating a meaningful life with less money and fewer possessions; it’s about clearing out distractions, cravings and habits that keep us from realising what really matters. One answer to the question of why we both experience well-being and progress in many parts of life at this moment is, simply put, the project itself. It’s very rewarding and, I believe, intrinsically valuable, to strive towards something.
To be clear, we’ve both had goals in life before – our respective master’s degrees, professional achievements, running a business, creating a beautiful home and a row of other individual and joint ambitions. In fact, one could argue that we’ve had nothing but goals and ambitions. We both come from poor and generally shitty backgrounds characterised by marginalisation, violence, abuse and an all too real and adequate sense of starting at the very bottom of society with little prospect of getting up. “You’ll have to work twice as hard as the rich kids in order to get somewhere”, my mother used to say. Note that by “rich kids”, she meant working class children with two parents holding relatively low paid jobs. The middle- and upper classes were not the reference point in our small village dominated by the mining and steel industries. In fact, it was built in 1943 in order to provide the steel industry with fresh meat and has been spiraling downwards since the steel crisis in the 1970’s.
Do watch this beautiful, Soviet-inspired propaganda film with the Swedish title “Fagersta – the City of Steel and Labour” to get an idea of the kind of values that were still prevalent when I grew up in Fagersta in the 1990’s:
Early on, my mother communicated the fact that she could – and would by any means – make me brush my teeth, eat my greens, sit up straight, do my homework and behave well; I’d enjoy absolutely nil privilege in terms of contacts, money, material possessions and the like, so I could let no opportunity go to waste. “All I can give you is healthy teeth and a a good reputation”, she concluded – the teeth being very significant, since dental care is not included in the otherwise generous Swedish health care system. Your class background will show when you smile, lest you brush your teeth like there is a tooth-brushing price to be won. This may seem like a detour from the topic, but the point is: I’ve had too much, rather than too little, ambition in life. I’ve studied and worked as if chased by hungry hellhounds. The same goes for Kristoffer, who had an impoverished hippie mother who did not emphasise peak performance and discipline like mine did, but still managed to instill in him the sense of him having to provide for himself so help him God, Satan and the Rolling Stones.
Short version: we worked hard and now we want to quit and move to the Spanish countryside. The minimalist project is about exploring the possibilities and pitfalls of this slightly ludicrous idea. Can and will we give up successful careers and the comforts of city life in order to live in a tiny house, grow herbs and hike the hillsides? Can and will we find a way to make a living in Spain?
So, the minimalist project is very beneficent in and of itself, because it provides a direction in life that is not about performance. It’s about finding out what could make a genuinely meaningful life. We may stay in Sweden, we may escape to the mountains of Spain, we may travel back and forth between the two – but it is our choice and now, being well-paid adults with fewer and fewer demons left to slay, we have the opportunity to explore it. In order to rewire ourselves, increase mental and physical health and become more sturdy in preparation for minimalist life, we’re experimenting with meditation, yoga, primal exercise regimes, eating habits, food supplements, journal writing, strict limitations of screen- and online time, sleep habits, social life and relationships, cryotherapy and a few other things that we’ll get back to eventually.
For now, let me just say that I recently started taking vitamin B7, zinc and MSM to see if I could hack my hair into growing at the speed of light. It’s really too soon to tell, but the intermediate conclusion is: yes, it works. It has grown 11 millimeters in just 14 days. That’s more than twice the standard rapidity of hair growth, and the experiment has only just begun. These supplements, along with vitamin D, magnesium and potassium, probably play a major role in my enhanced sense of well-being; both me and Kristoffer have felt (and looked, if I may say so) positively radiant since we started taking them a couple of weeks ago. My well informed guess is that it’s thanks to the MSM in particular. With that said, thank you for following my feverish rants – I’ll now get back to lying on my back, looking at the ceiling, blowing my nose and cursing wildly.