Advent declutter underway, thanks to Jorrit and Nicky
Ever since I bought my Millican Dave backpack back in the Summer I have subscribed to their regular — and somewhat quirky - mailshots. The company, founded by a couple named Jorrit and Nicky (no surnames — that would be far too formal) is named after a chap who turned his back on the material world and went to live in a cave in the wilds in the early 1900s. They describe themselves thus: “…A small, creative team based on a farm in the English Lake District. We like to share ideas and inspiring stories with a community of like-minded folk."
Their products range from the aforementioned backpack through assorted other shapes and sizes of luggage and book and laptop covers, to premier cru connoisseur coffee that appears to have been made by virgin monks living on the tops of flagpoles in Tristan da Cunha by the light of the full moon (maybe I exaggerate a fraction) and books that are in line with their somewhat ...alternate philosophy of life.
I confess I quite look forward to the Millican emails. Whilst I don't live the life that they propound, I do appreciate and agree with some of the thinking. Jorrit and Nicky believe — as, increasingly do I — that carrying only what you need frees you up to experience more. I apply that rule quite assiduously to my photography; I have found the hard way over the years that the more kit I carry, the less I actually photograph and, more importantly, the lower the success rate of the images I do capture. If I'm not careful I spend more of my time faffing over what lens to use than actually framing an image. Sod's Law dictates that the 14mm you mounted just a moment ago to capture the sweeping magnificence of the vista before you is completely inappropriate to the quick shot of the old man crossing the road opposite.
The reductio ad absurdam argument, of course is to carry just a single camera and a single lens, such as the fixed lens of the X100T, but I'm either not Zen enough or not confident enough to do that when travelling to a city with photography as my aim. Thus my minimum for a trip nowadays is a two- or three-lens compact kit such as the "holy trinity" 23mm f/2, 35mm f/2 and 60mm f/2.4 with the X-Pro2. Horses for courses, though — If I were going to an airshow, the minimum would be the 100-400...
For me at least, the other key benefit to carrying only what you need is that a reducing what I carry increases the distance I am willing to walk in direct proportion. It’s a very simple equation: With fewer lenses I walk more, see more, discover more and capture more.
Thus, the mail from Millican that dropped into my inbox a few days ago outlining their 'Stuffmas' Challenge struck a chord and motivated me to do something similar - and yet slightly different. Their original idea is summed up in their own words as follows: "We will also challenge ourselves here at Millican HQ, embarking on a 30 Day Stuff Challenge, starting Monday 28th Nov. Each of us will get rid of one item in our lives every day in the lead up to Christmas. The stuff we will collect in these 30 days will then be donated to charity."
I think this is a great idea and I've decided to do something similar. I've done so in the past, but not in quite such a structured way. So December 1 was the first day of my own Advent Declutter. For the 24 days leading up to Christmas I shall each day eliminate one thing from my life.
It may be material — books, clothes, CDs, camera kit or accessories, for example — or intangible; thus I am also going to review my direct debits, standing orders and subscriptions and cancel anything that is out of date or no longer needed or wanted. To paraphrase the nice people at Millican, I'm doing 24 days of Advent minimalism, which if nothing else is better for my waistline than a chocolate-filled calendar.
This "December detox" will leave me feeling lighter and less encumbered and generally de-bloat how I live and what I do. I'll go into Christmas with more space in my life and a little more inner calm (or at least a feeling of smug self-satisfaction). I'm doing what the Millican people say — as I move into 2017 I’ll be carrying only what I need in order that I can experience more.
Some days I’ll eliminate something small, others something more substantial. Today for example I got rid of a microwave oven. Tomorrow a box of talking books will go to the charity shop. I confess I'm not quite as altruistic as Jorrit and Nicky because I'm flogging stuff on eBay too, to build up the "toy fund" — but charities will benefit from all this over the next three and a bit weeks.
So that's the plan — Are you with me?