For those that know me or have known me for the last 10 years, you know that Lord of the Rings is a passion of mine. Yes. I say passion because obsession implies an element of creepiness and my ability to quote any line from all three movies (extended versions, duh) in any real life situation is not creepy. In fact, it is an admirable skill to possess.
As I began to write this post on minimalism, a quote from Tolkien (said by Bilbo in the films) popped into my head.
I realized at this moment that I haven’t watched the movie in months and am due for a fix. But more to the point, I realized I can connect the pleasant and simple way of hobbits to the way I live my life now, as a newfound minimalist.
When my boyfriend and I decided to move from Massachusetts to California, we wanted to do it the easiest way possible. Since we were driving, we packed only the bare essentials, what we needed for camping and some clothes. This meant getting rid of the majority of our belongs before the trip.
The hardest part for me was getting rid of my books. I am a bit of hoarder when it comes to literature and I love a good bookshelf. After years of collecting books, I had to filter through them and decide which I would be giving away, which I would be keeping in storage at my mom’s house and which few I wanted to take with me. Since books are so sentimental to me and full of memories, some of these choices almost brought me to tears. But I ended up piling about 10 or 15 novels in the back of the car, books I couldn’t leave behind or that I had not read yet. (A copy of “The Two Towers” that I purchased in Oxford, England, the very town that Tolkien wrote the novels in, came with me, of course.)
All my other belongs seem to have little to no importance when they were laid out before me, ready to be sorted. I stuffed trash bags full of clothes. Clothes that I had to buy and couldn’t live without in the moment, now had little value to me. After many trips to Goodwill and moving most of my furniture to my brother’s room, I was left with two bags of clothes, the books, my record player and my comforter. I was confident this was it. I didn’t need much else.
Hobbits value simplicity. As Bilbo Baggins says as he introduces his kinsfolk to the audience in the beginning of “The Fellowship of the Ring,”
But where our hearts truly lie is in peace and quiet, and good tilled earth. For all Hobbits share a love of things that grow.”
This sounds like a wonderful life to me. When I am able, I would love to create my a garden and grow my own fruits and vegetables. But more importantly, this idea of a quiet, peaceful life is one that we are not always encouraged to seek out.
In our consumer driven society, we are constantly told that our lives will be better with more. More money, more clothes, more makeup, more furniture, more electronics, more cars. Women are told that they are not beautiful enough unless they have the best clothes, and makeup and haircuts. I was caught up in that and experienced days of sadness and feelings of being unattractive because I didn’t have enough money to afford the “things” that I was told would make me look better.
Quiet and peaceful are two words I would not use to describe capitalism. But we are all right in the middle of it. Those with lives of excess, like celebrities, are celebrated and admired. Their “status” is our end goal. More, more, more.
After experiencing the shedding of my old life as I enter a new one by getting rid of most of my belongings, I felt light and freer. I didn’t need all the things I thought I did. I was just as fine as I was without them, as I was with them.
When we got our studio apartment in Long Beach, Marty and I wanted to carry this minimalist lifestyle to our living space. We bought a bed, well just the mattress actually, a table and chairs and a bookshelf. I strung up some lights and hung a tapestry. That is pretty much the extent of our apartment.
There is a type of stress relief that comes with minimalist living. I have the clothes that I have. I occasionally with buy new clothes with the change in weather or if something is needed, but I don’t have the compulsive desire that I once did to shop all the time and always have something new to wear. We have enough money to pay our bills and get lots of delicious healthy food because we don’t spend our money on more things to clutter our apartment or our closest.
By decluttering my life, I also learned more about myself. I learned what is actually important to me, what I value most. I learned that my books have value to me, my music. I also learned that people, above all else, are what I value most. I don’t miss the stuff I use to have back home, I miss the people I shared my time with, my friends and my family.
Now, I have made myself content with the things I do have. I find gratitude in my simple life. I have a home, a job, a loving boyfriend, a wonderful family, my health, an abundance of food…these are things that many don’t have. Or they do but are distracted by the unattainable chase for happiness in material goods.
Let us learn from hobbits. Celebrate your simple life. Live for the people you love most. Find out what actually has value to you. Live for your passions.
Even if that passion is just eating.
“In fact, it has been remarked by some that the Hobbits’ only real passion is for food.”