I went to University in a small town whose population reduced by a third when school was out of session. Past the edge of town was a state park filled with amazing waterfalls, but if you turned off a few roads early, you’d come to a dead end. Beside the road was a trail that led back between houses and down to a secluded creek, a series of cliffs and a maze of paths used by dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles. We spent weekends exploring this crazy area which so few people knew about.

Today it’s now officially part of the larger state park network. The old entrance has been closed off and an official parking lot has been built three kilometers away. Many of the most amazing trails have been closed off to the world, either sighting safety concerns or with no trespassing signs indicating the borders of private property. What was once a place of imagination and exploration became tamed. Other hikers I met from that era are glad the area is preserved, but I could hear the sense of loss and nostalgia in their voices; that feeling of saudade from that time when we felt like we were on the frontier, trekking through an undiscovered country in our own backyards. On those weekends, between the deadlines of projects, assignments, fraternity parties and final exams, we spent time exploring, both our world and ourselves.

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A Tale of Two Journeys

Seattle to Cincinnati (map)

In 2015, due to a series of events, I began a journey across the globe where I lived out of two bags for eleven months. In May of 2017, I left my full time job and started another journey, this time driving across the US. It’s been several months since I started this new minimalist adventure, and it’s not been entirely what I expected. I’ve seen a lot of amazing friends and family. I’ve had a couple of setbacks. I’ve struggled with people, relationships and burnout. My journey is not quite over, but I’ve already learned a considerable amount about myself, people and America.

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Return to Minimalism

At Rest

Purple Flower in a Pond

When people die, we tend to say they are at rest. Headstones on burial mounds sometimes etch the words, “Rest in peace.” This euphemism isn’t limited to English. It exists word for word as the German phrase, “Ruhe in Frieden,” or the Spanish saying, “que descanse en paz.” In the conscious, living mind of an individual, rest is an action we take to relieve ourselves of stress and weariness. It is an effort we take to recover from our efforts, either mentally or physically.

Rest doesn’t necessarily involve inaction, such as laying on a beach or falling asleep in one’s bed. It can involve an action, such as watching a movie, playing a game or swimming in a lake. So is it odd that we apply this term to those who no longer have the ability to think? Those who are lost from this world, with no way to ever again participate in the existence we share, are at rest only in our memories. Death, as far as we know, removes one’s ability to rest.

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Two bags that I lived out of for ten months
Two bags that I lived out of for ten months

It has been ten months, since I fully unpacked. Since April of 2015, I have been living out of two bags. After some life changing events, I left the amazing city of Wellington, New Zealand. It was truly the most beautiful city I have ever lived in. After spending two and a half years there with some very amazing people, my journey led me westward through Australia, Asia and Europe. I met up with old friends, found new loves, and learned the hard and true virtues of minimalism.

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The interpretation of media we use to exchange information depends heavily on surrounding context. Writing and photos can turn from rational to offensive, possibly even illegal, all dependent on the way and means by which they are presented. Human communication, art, performance and entertainment all depend heavily on the surroundings in which they are created. Much of how we interpret something to be either funny or offensive is dependent heavily upon both the context the work is presented, and the culture in which an audience was born into and raised from.

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Trapped in the Cubical

The modern office cubicle came about sometime in the 1960s. A cubicle seeks to grant some degree of privacy while taking up a minimal amount of space on open office floors. They are usually easy to assemble, dismantle, move and resize. People who work in cubicles typically have all sorts of photos, toys and other knickknacks on display if the work environment allows it. In this way they are all slightly unique, as unique as each individual worker. In the same way, under the decorations and personal items, each cube is exactly the same, just like all their occupants.

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Last year my parents asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I told them they didn’t need to get me anything. I no longer celebrated Christmas. I’ve grown tired of the rampant consumerism associated with a holiday season that originally came about because humans were simple thankful they had survived another frigid, harsh winter. Although I have no problem with people celebrating any of the winter holidays, I can say my life has been amazingly less stressful during this time of the year. Meanwhile others bustle around to buy gifts, half of which well end up in a storage bin anyway.

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Pale Blue Dot

The Voyager 1 spacecraft was launched by NASA in 1977. Its original mission was to visit and photograph Jupiter and Saturn. As Voyager 1 departed the solar system, at the request of Carl Sagan, NASA commanded the craft to take a photograph of the Earth from a distance of several billion kilometers. This photograph became the foundation for Sagan’s 1994 book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. The following excerpt from the first Chapter in Sagan’s book offers one of the most amazing and humbling perspectives about the human race and our place in the universe.

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