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Shattered Rift

Ascetic Living

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I got back from a two week trip to Utah on Monday, and similarly to my traveling last summer, I traveled light, only really having my phone for entertainment. I'm currently gearing up to relocate in that direction, and I'm finding myself planning to travel light, computer and phone being essentially the only forms of entertainment that I'll be taking with me.

What I found interesting last summer was how much more easily I was able to concentrate and contemplate the circumstances of my life. I've never been the "connect with nature" type that experiences something similar, but here I did, and I found the focus incredibly valuable.

Most of you probably know that I grew up as a gamer and spending much of my teenage years online. It feels surreal to look around my room now, to look over my bookshelves filled with movies/shows/books/games, and to both know that I don't care for many of them and want to strip them away (at least in presence: I still want to own them).

I'd like to ask, how many others here have experienced something in this vein or another, and has it influenced your material approach to life?

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I guess I've been in a similar situation. I moved to Japan two and a half months ago and only brought my phone/ps4 and a few pc components. (Along with clothes etc..)

That might still sound like a lot, but I never actually finished building my pc here as I originally planned. Considering that before I came, that was almost solely my life, with all my media, it's been a big change.

 

Plus my previous room was filled with 4 consoles, a huge collection of games, a bunch of books, a guitar and my pc. I honestly doubt I'd have ever got rid of them had I not moved to the other side of the world, but now that I have I don't regret it at all. 

 

After arriving I started going out a lot more, and had more time to think about life in the first month and a half. Since then though, my ps4 has just sort of become a replacement pc and I've fallen back into my old patterns somewhat. I'm still being more social than before coming here, but it's still not enough honestly. Self reflection is all but gone. 

 

I guess that's the end for this particular vaguely coherent ramble. I don't really have any good way to tie it up. 

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What prompted the move to Japan?

It's interesting to hear that you never finished building your PC, and it's fascinating hearing that you don't regret cutting out a lot of your gaming collection/etc. That's the kind of thing I was hoping to hear about. I had never really thought of myself as materialistic while growing up, and I always tried to keep a good sense of which things were essential to me (the Mega Man painting Nebiros gave me, Yu-Gi-Oh! playmats, dance notes, and a small handful of other more sentimental things), but traveling without them made me realize how distracting so many of them were just by being around me all of the time.

I don't know that I'm going for any kind of brilliant insight or particular direction. The fact that you've become more social is worthwhile in its own right, especially because that's one of the reasons that's prompting me to pack light when I move.

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I grew up almost entirely without video games. We weren't exactly poor, but my parents bought more house than Dad's peers, so several years I was eating bread with pizza sauce and leftovers, watching a black and white TV with a coat hanger for an antenna (the family TV was usually off limits), and reading the encyclopedia because it was more interesting than my parents' book selection at that age. When I got access to the family TV, I spent as much time as I could watching it. It's not quite the asceticism you're speaking of, but in retrospect, I found the limited access made it too much of a focus. TV became precious, and when finally the restrictions were gone, I spent too much time watching TV, playing games, etc. Over the years, I reached a saturation point where I realized the TV would get by just fine without me, and I was not really enjoying a lot of the games I was playing. Right now, I'm far from an ascetic lifestyle - I have a TV, 2 computers, a smartphone, 2 consoles (up from 0 a couple years ago), but I find it only becomes a focal point if I have something specific I want out of it. The TV only gets turned on if I want to do something - watch a new movie, watch a TV series I'm feeling nostalgic about, etc. The Wii, despite several games I haven't touched hasn't been turned on in months.

On the other hand, the computer and smartphone are my links to the world. I do everything through them, and enjoy the lack of clutter they provide.

 

Now, a dumb question for you - Electronics have never cluttered my life. Government, business and busybodies have. What are you doing that let you live your ascetic lifestyle without massive piles of paper when you come home? I separated it out one month and the stack of garbage that was pure advertisement was more than 2 13 gallon trash cans could hold, the mix of bills, tax information, "keep for your records" documents, and other such garbage was about a third of another 13 gallon trash can, and that was before getting into the things I had carelessly gotten myself into (eg. donating to charities).

 

Incidentally, never donate to charities unless you can do it anonymously. They all abuse your contact information.

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11 hours ago, InuyashaOhki said:

When I got access to the family TV, I spent as much time as I could watching it. It's not quite the asceticism you're speaking of, but in retrospect, I found the limited access made it too much of a focus.

I hadn't considered the opposite(ish) approach. My saturation came at a young age, having access to both the family TV and my brother's NES for about as far back as I can remember. I can't remember how old I was when I got my own TV. What I do remember more clearly is that I split my time between video games, playing outside (bike riding, hanging out as kids do, wandering around a nearby park, and jumping on a trampoline), and then later cutting back on video game time once I reached my teenage years and instead pouring that time into online ventures. For me, having a computer was something that came much later, but my fixation on it came from... I'm not really sure what caused me to focus so much time and energy into it.

11 hours ago, InuyashaOhki said:

Now, a dumb question for you - Electronics have never cluttered my life. Government, business and busybodies have. What are you doing that let you live your ascetic lifestyle without massive piles of paper when you come home?

I'm not sure if I get a limited amount of junk mail or have a limited number of records I need to keep, but these things usually only eat up a few minutes each day. Perhaps I'm treating them too lightly, and I haven't actively done anything to remove them from my life, but in the context of where my head was at in posting this thread I've never focused on them beyond those moments I spend sorting through and throwing them out. They don't hold my attention for any longer than they have to.

Perhaps our age difference has something to do with it? I'm in my late twenties, and I forget if you're five or ten years older than me. (Then again, my brother has a decade on me, and I don't think he has too much more of a problem with this than I do, so maybe it's regional?) With the transition from paper to digital advertising, there might be greater forces at work there.

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I moved because I wasn't happy with life... Had zero idea what I did want to do in life and wanted a year away to just enjoy myself, travel and maybe come up with some plan 

 

I would also say that I'm not sure me cutting my gaming collection etc was something that I would have really benefited from if I still lived in the UK so not sure if it would apply to you. It's just that it was somewhat necessary to do in this situation, but I don't regret having to do. 

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Posted (edited)

On 4/19/2017 at 0:06 AM, Shattered Rift said:

I'd like to ask, how many others here have experienced something in this vein or another, and has it influenced your material approach to life?

I've experienced this twice... I believe it has influenced my material approach to life. The first time, I didn't have a computer. Slept on the floor pretty much. I was very bare. I bought a $100 computer later on. I bought maybe 2 new sweaters.

I didn't have much because I was living in a corner of a room. So getting material was not an option for me.

The 2nd time was because of a job offer.

I came up with my computer, clothing and some documents.

I accumulated a lot of stuff I think. Got a shelf, drawer, got a free desk. I think these are essentials though.

Some things that are not essential are some cooking tools that I wanted and ended up not using. Got a small sandwich grill and a pressure cooker I'm not using. 

Brought my bike but ended up not using it much. I have 2 bikes now, looking to sell one of them. 

Because I have some spending money, I've been buying stuff off Amazon only. Like new shoes, clothes, containers. I think I went overboard with some things. 

I think a number of other things affected my material approach. When I didn't have money, I save things up in case I need it another time. I wanted a lot of stuff.

When I got a job, and was able to spend on things, I did not start to hoard or collect thing. But I tried many things that can help my life a little. Like running, jogging clothes. Some terry cloth towels for cleaning, an air filter, bicycle equipment, a fan, etc. 

I do grow some plants, and currently at 6 potted plants in my room. I often get the urge to get more, but due to space and more work needed for care, I stayed firm at 6 for a while now. 

The other material thing that's probably bad is my computer. I got two good computer. I rpobably don't need a $500 SSD, $800 graphics card, $800 CPU+motherboard... Maybe went overboard... I think I got an Xboxone at $500 when it first came out. I learned to not buy consoles ever again.

I guess another thing that helped me on not hoarding is... I think I might move around a lot. It sucks having a lot of furniture.

Room size, storage space accounts for how much material I accumulate. 

Also, I live in a shared house - so I try not to have too many value things. If they steal my bed, OK. Steal my clothes? OK I got ugly clothing. Steal my plants? I'd be sad. Wait, I have a pretty nice jacket I wouldn't want anyone to steal actually. 

Some valuebles I left at my parents place are some magic/yugioh cards. Got a Diablo 3 collector's edition box. I secured these things so they don't get thrown out. If I ever get a house of my own, I'd store these things in it of course. 

 

 

Edited by Bed

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On 04/20/2017 at 0:18 PM, Shattered Rift said:

Then again, my brother has a decade on me, and I don't think he has too much more of a problem with this than I do, so maybe it's regional?

I have to assume that is the case. I see the same sort of piles at the houses and apartments of friends and family I'm close enough to that they don't feel the need to tidy up before inviting me over. It might be that my state (we do have "must be paper" laws for insurance, possibly other things) or the 2 counties I've lived in as an independent adult (didn't have the problem as a student in the third county I lived in, but I was a dependent, registered as living with my parents, and got piles there).

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Whelp. This turned into a giant ramble.

I have several close friends that have talked about wanting to live completely ascetic, but only maybe one that could actually handle it and would in fact pursue it if not for familial obligations (he's the one that takes almost sole care of his grandma).

As for myself, I'm practicing a mild form of it right now.

I live with my parents and they've had the same house since I was nine months out of the womb (so it's ~28 years old), and they haven't been able to take care of it very well for a long time due to age and health (they own two and a half lots that include not only the little house but an in-ground pool and volleyball court and small pond and it's the yard that is really the problem: upkeep is difficult for them). Long story short, at this point they're trying to sell.

When we began the process, my room was packed with all the stuff I had accumulated from moving into a dorm and then into an apartment (six years worth of stuff), and since I was sort of at a 'what am I doing' point in my life, I didn't really put anything into storage, instead piling it around on the two bedroom sets that lined the walls (movies, books, video games, the works). Now, basically all of that stuff is stored in boxes in my closet or the garage and my floors are clear and there's only the one bedroom set, my TV, Wii, and computer out.

I haven't touched my TV/Wii in months (I kept them and like a game or two I thought I might play), and in general I'm fully aware that I don't need to be on my computer quite so much and could do with less of it any way.

And I don't miss any of it.

All those piles of stuff I wasn't using anyway.

But I never really have felt any withdraw when this sort of thing happens.

I had a friend recently take a look at my PC for me and he had it for a few days and I didn't hardly miss it at all. Probably what I felt the most "sore" about was the fact that if I wanted to do any RPing, I had to type it on my phone, which is noticeably slower than my ~100 wpm with a keyboard. (Note: I don't hardly use my phone for anything other than texting, but occasional RP-typing and things of that sort will happen on it.)

Now, the thing is, I don't really want to get rid of the stuff that I don't want to get rid of.

Would I miss them if there was a fire or they got stolen? I guess. But I know perfectly well that I am capable of living without them.

There's very little in my life that I'm actually attached to. That I would honest-to-goodness be upset about if it went away.

The other problem though is the fact that as someone who does the whole music thing, I have boxes of sheet music and opera scores and they just take up space, but as part of my job there isn't really much I can do about it.

Similarly with scores, there's just something about the tactile sensation of holding a book in your hand and having them physically present that I will never get with e-books.

I purged quite a few things as we were packing things away and as I mentioned I'm rarely the type to get truly sentimental about stuff, but the things that I didn't get rid of are things that I want to have around, though perhaps just for the sake of knowing that I have them around.

like having my movies and books and manga and video games out, regardless of the fact that I haven't so much as touched any of them (aside from the books) in ages. It's more like, instead of knick-knacks, I decorate with those sorts of things. I got rid of almost all of those knick-knack paddy-whack sorts of stuff because "I don't really want to have to move this," only keeping the handful of anime or video game paraphernalia I have that I enjoy keeping out. I really do miss being able to have my various posters hanging up on my wall (I didn't put them up when I moved back home out of my apartment), but I want to have a place to put them where they can stay. Where I can nest and get everything where I want it and not have to worry about moving out of that home.

Granted, in this process, I've also learned what not to put away. Things that you look at and are all 'oh I don't need that' and then boom. You do.

I traveled to Sussex about two years ago for an Opera Music Festival and packed WAY too much stuff that I had to them haul around the Underground while in London and then onto the trains we took during the last leg of the journey there. And sure, I used all of the stuff I brought, but as I'm planning for my trip to Italy in June (more opera stuff), I'm looking at the smallest suitcase I can possibly get away with. My only problem is, what with saving up for Italy, I haven't had a chance to purchase some sort of e-reader for myself, so I'm still looking at my book collection going 'but I want to take like five of you with me QQ'

 

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Posted (edited)

On ‎4‎/‎30‎/‎2017 at 9:09 AM, TheLastStarMaker said:

But I never really have felt any withdraw when this sort of thing happens.

I too went without computer and internet for a long period of time, in the past though. It wasn't hard for me to drop everything you are working on and start something new. I think its the same feeling as "giving up," which I hear is the easy road to things. Withdrawal comes from perhaps an addiction of some sort. I was a bit addicted to playing games, and when I stopped my gaming upkeep, the feeling of giving up was greater than a feeling of hanging on (withdrawal). I've had numerous times prior to experience failure and giving up, so I think this helped me rid myself of effects of chronic withdrawal. It's not like this sort of addiction is a drug-addiction too.

I've often been told from people around me that the cause of everything that is bad is my computer, games, and technology in general.

I took this advice and let myself not touch technology for maybe half a year. 

I found that when I stopped indulging in my computer time, I had a lesser indulgence in something else. I went out and hanged out with friends. Went outdoorsy, went to bars, went to house game parties, etc

I was thinking, why is one form of indulgence better than the other? What makes it acceptable? Obviously one is culturally acceptable. But I felt that factor muddies the real verdict. So I broke down the fundamental benefits of each form of indulgence.

The computer is a portal to greater knowledge. It is infinitely growing in complexity. You can create anything you want and learn whatever you want. The drawback is that it is changing too fast and is viewed as this "other world." People who do not use it find it strange and not human. I was on a plane the other night, and a drunk lady that sat next to me yelled at me for reading an article on my phone. She educated me the difference between speaking to another human through a device and in person. One was more real, personable, human. The other was machine.

The social life, often defined as "having a life" itself is culturally acceptable. It offers a traditional and even more effective means of social networking. Often leads to a partner in life I think. Speech is an ability that you don't often practice on the computer (even though you can). Eye contact and body language seems to be important to people. I don't care for that stuff. You get a lot of health benefits than sitting around too. I think the drawback, from my own personal experience anyways, is that you are not exposed to new ideas as much as you can be; tunnel vision. Gossip, word of mouth, can lead to a disaster, AKA drama. I don't know if it was the drama that ensued at the climax of relationships, but it felt like the people around me were emulating the drama they see in shows or something. They were non-issues, but they do a lot of damage. It's like the bigger picture didn't matter, and this incredibly minor issue turns out to be the nuclear bomb of a happy community. Such forms of hysteria exists on the internet and in real life, but more-so damaging in real life. 

I chose mostly option 1 later on, as it relates to my life goals. This option also helped me with a "less materialized" way of living. The computer and cell phones are devices that compact multiple devices into one. It's less material overall. Also, it can simulate many things. If you want to snowboard, you can play a snowboarding game. I know it's not the same thing, but take it as a trial before doing the real thing. You don't need a snowboard, you don't need a board game, a basketball, a frisbee.  Forget camping. If the goal is less material, a computer life is the best package. Forget having a variety of clothes to dress up nicely (I wear the same thing everyday to work... haha), a car, outdoorsy equipment. You just need a bed(optional, but good for your back nonetheless), a computer, a toothbrush, a couple sets of clothing, some toilet paper, soap, a notebook, whatever you need for your job, and that should be good. 

Lastly, Ascetic living is defined as a form of living without typical or worldly indulgence and more time spent on the spirit. If you find satisfaction in spending time on your spirit, isn't that an indulgence? What is the criteria for an acceptable indulgence in terms of going ascetic?

Edited by Bed
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