Feb 24, 2022 • 40M

An Uncluttered Mind

Sean Hotchkiss returns to talk minimalism.

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Michael Williams
Conversations about style, life, business and culture with interesting people.
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Donald Judd knew.

Last year I was reminded that it is easy to accumulate things, but difficult to get rid of them. I spent most of the year giving things to friends, donating to charity, selling on eBay and just generally pushing to divest. It was happening in every area of my life; my closet, electronics, bikes and as you well know, my extra car. If I wanted to just junk things it would have been easier, but it probably would have resulted in much more separation anxiety. If I sell something cheap on eBay or Offer Up I'm glad it went to a place where someone will use it. 

It's hard to get rid of things and it's equally as hard not to just keep bringing new things in. My wife likes to remind me of this anytime a box arrives. I've even started to do some awkward but necessary things. Friends with brands have sent clothes and I have thanked them and sheepishly sent them back. That seems offensive, but I just don't need any more pants. I probably never will. 

My big goal was go to get rid of 60% of my stuff. We moved several times in the past two years and seeing your possessions in boxes is alarming. When your stuff is out in the open you really get a sense of how unimportant most of it all is. That's what happened to me and the process has helped me think harder about the things I buy and if I really need it. Even if I haven't made it to 60% (yet; I've probably unloaded 30% of my overall footprint) I've learned a lot in the process. The one person I've really looked to for inspiration and guidance in this process is Sean Hotchkiss. He wrote this amazing essay for GQ about getting rid of all but a few essential possessions. It was sort of shocking and the article went pretty far and wide. He was the only person I actually knew who had just dramatically simplified his life when it comes to stuff. My curiosity piqued on Black Friday 2020 and we recorded a short pod about it

Since 2016 when Sean went super minimal and now the pendulum has swung back a bit for him and he seems to have found a happy medium. He's not living a fully minimal lifestyle now, but he's also not in the same overwhelmed place he started out. This was the state I am hoping to get to and I wanted to check in with Sean again to see what he has learned at this point. We spoke about our relationship with our possessions, the behavior that drives some of this consumption and we even talk a bit about mental health. Not everyone is going to identify with these issues and I certainly understand that I'm lucky that these are my problems. In no way would I overlook the fact that the world has a lot of problems and a lot of people have suffered tremendously in the past few years. The goal here is to try and become the best version of ourselves that we can be. An uncluttered home with a clear mind. Just don't look in my garage. There's still work to be done.

Hope you all enjoy our conversation.

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Thanks to Al James for lending me his music. The song is: Hard Working Dogs by Dolorean.