A Surprising Struggle to Get Smaller.

I’m a minimalist.  I caught on to the idea of living smaller and getting rid of the extra stuff in my life.  Meaning mostly that anything that I don’t need to make music needs to go.   I have limiting beliefs about this, but I notice that the smaller I get the more those around me fight against it.

If it weren’t a problem enough to “fight” against yourself to cut things from your life, one thing you  find as you go against the grain (in any endeavor) is those closest to you say and do things to ACTIVELY stop you.  These are people you love, who love you, who cannot stand the idea of you doing something “risky” or “abnormal”.  They do not want to see you hurt, which is good, but they haven’t thought it through.

People tend to think that you would enjoy their lives.  It is human to not use empathy.  We assume that everyone sees the world as we do, and find it difficult to imagine other ways of living.  We also find flaws in other lifestyles to justify why we did things the way we did.

The implications here are strong.  No one has an unbiased view of your life.  Everyone around you is viewing you through the lens of their experience. Unless they have results that your want, you must  ignore them.  As Scott Wilson says “Don’t take professional advice from amateurs”.  My parents, my aunts and uncles, my siblings, my friends and co-students are all amateur Josh Birches.  I am the only professional full-time employee at Josh-co.  Therefore, my direction for life is solely the product of my idea of how things aught to be and the sum of life experiences THAT ONLY I LIVED!

Others mean well, but they don’t have access to the information you are using to choose your life.

When you strike out you are threatening the way of life they have worked hard to obtain.  Imagine that you spent you entire 50 years on earth trying to make money to raise a family, and some kid comes along and won’t shut up about how having kids and a mortgage is total slavery.  You wouldn’t drop your life and agree with the prick.  You would fight.  Hard.  You would justify everything, and learn to see your life in a better light just to prove to yourself that you made the right call.

The kid, and his stupid ideas about minimalism, are causing you a great deal of cognitive dissonance.  It is easy to see, using empathy, why others wouldn’t take kindly to you changing your life, pursuing your dreams, etc.   They didn’t, and it truly hurts them to watch you try.

It is the same phenomenon when you watch someone younger than you play.  You hope they sound bad, even if them sounding good doesn’t hurt you.  You listen without empathy or sympathy.  You listen with hate, impatience, and think only of the future where you tell all your friends how he sucks compared to you, and how important experience is compared to talent.

All garbage.  You could have chosen to enjoy that moment and lift up a fellow musician.  Instead, you chose to feel like trash, and that IN NO WAY MADE THE KID SOUND WORSE!  It serves no purpose to stand in other people’s way.  “The one who says it is impossible should not interfere with the one who is doing it”.

This is your life, and it really doesn’t matter what other people think.  They will tell you not to double, they will tell you need more than 300 square feet to live and have a family, they will constantly highball the costs of life to convince you that 20,000 a year is simply not enough (when a great many billions get by with less). They will scream that you need a degree, and a life that impacts everyone on earth, and published papers in order to matter.

They are wrong.  You are right.

Ignore them.