The Renewal of Engineered Eloquence


I got the Blot renewal notice. It is a small sum, but as these things do, it brought a choice to mind that had a balloon effect. Is it bringing value to my life? Is it bringing value to anyone else’s life? Would I be willing to walk away from Engineered Eloquence? This is a microcosm of my minimalist journey.

You see, minimalism has become a lens through which I view everything. For better or worse. I sometimes wonder if others notice. I sometimes wonder if others are sick of hearing about it. 😆 But the lens has some very valid points.

In my reading, I have approached the following items through the minimalist lens:

  • Possessions, generally
  • Digital Life
  • Clothing
  • Parenting
  • Faith/Spirituality/Religion
  • Politics

Possessions are where most people live. For better or worse, people decide that minimalism is all about simplifying/minimizing their things. They get to a specific small number and that is it. Or they reach a specific look for their home and that is it. They never internalize it further to focus on things that, in fact, take up no space and yet provide their own amount of clutter.

I finally read two books by The Minimalists. They have the holistic view of minimalism, as you might expect. I bet they lose people once they move past the decluttering conversation. There is real turmoil in the minimization process. There are real conversation, real relationships, real lives that are affected by this type of move, ones that people don’t want to have.

Do I need this [fill in the blank]?

This is a hard question because the answer is almost always No. Humans have shown that they are able to function with very little.

“I am complete in an empty room.” -Joshua Fields Millburn

The above quote from one of The Minimalists hit me when I first read it and has stuck with me ever since. The “No” answer is one that very few people are willing to take the time to grapple with. Because “Do I need this…” almost always extends past the item that fills in the blank. Because “Do I need this iPhone?” extends past the iPhone.

As a starting point “Do I need this iPhone?” becomes:

  • Do I need these apps?
  • Do I need these files?
  • Do I need these photos?
  • Do I need these messages?
  • Do I need these connections?
  • Do I need these relationships?

It becomes a fundamental shift when you think about that piece of tech as a social graph or a compendium of your life. Getting rid of your phone could be seen as tantamount to burning your house down if you attempt to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Our digital life encompasses our lives. The pandemic threw this into sharper focus, but this has been true since the Blackberry. We are defined by our technology in ways that were anathema just a decade or two ago.

So I will renew this year. I will keep trying to fit it into the chaos of life, but I will also do the hard work to ask the hard questions, so that I feel freer to go the other way in the future.