In August, the starter cable in my car broke. It was a humid afternoon, and I had just dropped off some friends after a wedding in New Hampshire. I was five miles away from my house, and by the time the tow truck arrived three hours later, it was almost dinnertime.
The driver, a tattoo-covered man sipping a super-sized Pepsi, took me back to my apartment in Jamaica Plain. He apologized for the wait and told me about his previous customer: a woman who made a five-minute job take three hours, and who, at the end of the ordeal proclaimed, “you must HATE what you do!”
He didn’t hate his job, not one bit. He said that he loved his work. He loved the twelve hours and seven days a week that he spent repairing what most people could not repair themselves. He liked that this was a job he could do anywhere, and he had. He’d lived in six cities over the past ten years and only went two weeks without employment.
I thought of this moment again yesterday, when I discovered The Minimalists, a blog by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, two men who gave away their careers and most of their possessions, moved from a high-roller life to a cabin in Montana and now blog about what it means to live simply. To them, minimalism isn’t about giving up everything that you own, escaping to the woods, or turning off the electricity. Minimalism is about freeing yourself from the anxieties that come from wanting more stuff. It’s about going through your day with intention, recognizing your purpose, and putting in the time and the effort to do what you love. Minimalism is different for everyone, which is what makes it so exciting, and what has given these guys a huge following over the past few years.
Those who take this philosophy to heart, living with deliberation and recognizing what matters seem to succeed in all that they do—from the tow truck driver who scoops up stranded drivers, to Harold Schulz, CEO of Starbucks, who led a leading brand through the an economic crisis, driven by a commitment to his employees and their families.
Only when we know our goals, maintain a genuine passion for our community, and recognize our place within that community, will we be able to create something meaningful, something that endures.