We’ve reluctantly left Gaucín and returned to Gothenburg. We immediately headed for the woods and our favourite lake. I swam underwater, picked some water lilies and made a necklace, just like I used to do as a child.
If you’re about to return to work after some time off, read this.
I thought I’d show you some of our current minimalist experiments. One is meditating first thing in the morning. I haven’t been very keen on doing that, but since I find it hard to stick to my daily thirty minutes as the day accelerates, I’m giving in a go. I try to finish it off with a headstand. The great reward of practicing headstand is that you’re forced to stay focused.
The second experiment we’re doing this autumn has to do with money. We’ve allotted ourselves a total of 150 euros a week for grocery shopping (including all kinds of everyday purchases like soap, toothbrushes, washing up liquid and light bulbs) – quite generous, but then decent food is expensive in Sweden.
We’ve also allotted ourselves 300 euros a month each, which we’ve labeled “Fun & games”. This is to cover everything from buying shoes or clothes, gym memberships, having dinner with friends and buying plane tickets for our upcoming winter vacation in Gaucín; that is, everything except from everyday expenditures. The experiment is to see if we can spend less than 150 euros a week on groceries, subsequently allowing us to transfer the remaining sum the to the “Fun & games”-account so that is grows. The hypothesis is that seeing the “Fun & games”-account grow will make us more frugal, since we’re both less inclined to waste money that we’re aware could go a long way to pay off our tiny mortgage or renovating our house. If you’ve five euros left, why not get a glass of wine, right? But if you’ve five thousand euros put aside for your amusement, you might be more inclined to save it.
The third of our current experiments is keeping tableware and cutlery to an absolute minimum. We keep just enough for cooking and eating a single meal; the rest, which we use if we’ve guests, is stored in the basement. We’ve actually stopped using our kitchen cupboards for tableware, storing the few items we use in the dish rack. The point of this is forcing ourselves to do the dishes immediately. This makes it impossible to accumulate any real mess. So far, it’s our favourite minimalist experiment. We’re planning on going more extreme by minimising the number of items even further. Do we really need three different size bowls each? Probably not – just like we realised we’re doing fine with one drinking glass each; after all, it contains all kinds of liquid, including water, coffee, hot chocolate and the odd glass of wine.
Most of our kitchen cupboards are now empty – some contain books and some contain a few items that we use. The one below has some thermos bottles, a jug that we use mostly for watering house plants, some glass bottles for kombucha and the kombucha itself in the making. Note the coffee cups in the bottom left corner – these are a couple of eighty year old beauties that I treasure greatly and use on the rare occasions when I have coffee. Also note the pleasant and strict order of the drawers; if you’re ever so slightly pedant or if you just like to find what you’re looking for instantly, this is bliss.
One lesson from these experiments is that it’s far easier to simply minimise the number of items available than to organise an excess of things. Over the years, we’ve organised our belongings in a number of ways, spending money and time on clever, bespoke storage solutions. But what if there are no things to store? What if it’s impossible to make a mess?