Curating Life: Minimalism

Perhaps it started with my exodus from LA where I left my life in less than two weeks and took only what would fit in my car. It could have been the six weeks I spent living out of a backpack in Southeast Asia or the 9 days out of my car on my way to Pittsburgh, whatever it was, something has always drawn me to minimalism.

On any given day, I’m usually reading some sort of entrepreneurial memoir which helps me keep my spirits up while drudging through the trenches of the startup lifestyle.

I’ll never forget reading Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. I felt Isaacson did an honest and unbiased rendition of Jobs life. I had a hard time putting it down. I distinctly remember the bit about Jobs first house and its lack of furniture. Steve Jobs' commitment to minimalism and simplicity rang true throughout his entire career, in his obsession with his work,  his designs and his personal life.

“Simplicity isn't just a visual style. It's not just minimalism or the absence of clutter. It involves digging through the depth of the complexity. To be truly simple, you have to go really deep.” - Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

That book is also where I was introduced to the idea of a uniform. In Jobs’ case it was his iconic black turtleneck. I personally don’t like to where a lot of color, never have, and was entranced by the idea of keeping things black and white with the occasional neutral tones to spruce things up. However, I didn’t act on my interest other than making a mental note. Until recently, when I went to hear Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn, the creators of The Minimalists, talk at Amazing Books here in Pittsburgh. I guess I just needed someone to say, “Hey, I did it and you can too.”


I bought both their books. Read them within a week. Regrettably only had the first one signed but then loaned them to co-workers in an attempt not to feel too attached. The loaning of books is a nebulous business - 75% of the time you do not get them back.

  1. Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life; I liked it and couldn’t put it down until 3/4s of the way where it starts to sound a little too much like a “self-help” book.  In their defense I really struggle with imparting wisdom in my own writing. It’s hard to avoid sounding preachy or soap-box-y
  2. Everything that Remains; I liked this one much more. The personal stories behind their journey and message really connected the dots for me.

Now, I’m trying to hold true to my motto and continue curating my own life. I am currently going through a bit of a personal renaissance. I had a stint living on my own at 16 and always with roommates. Having ownership of my living situation has always been a dream of mine and I am finally living in my own apartment, at 27.  It took a lot of courage and emotional support from others to finally make the move. That, along with some heavy inspiration, is really forcing me to evaluate, again, what I value, how I value it and how I translate those values into action. Thus I have embarked on a few minimalist experiments of my own.

I made it to 19 days playing their minimalist game. I feel happier. Clean. But I know I still have a  ways to go before I’m living my simplest.