Friday, April 26, 2013

Challenge to Define

I  joined a survivalist forum and put the term Minimalist under my Avatar, which is a cropped headshot from this PCT photo taken at Lake Moreno, at the anual zero day kick off party.
A friend asked me, What is your definition of minimalism, and when did I get interested in Survivalism. The answers aren't that easy to put into words. So, after some thought and of course,  some condensing or minimizing of the ideas, here's what I came up with. Thanks for asking me, Bruce.

Definition of a minimalist to me means having the things I need without excess. For instance, I have maybe seven pair of pants, two of which are for I need all of that? Probably not. How many shirts are hanging in your closet that you never wear? How much fluff -decorations line your book shelves? Its hard to come up with a specific definition. Of course it would be different for a family. For me, everything has to fit in my geo metro.

I became a minimalist while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I found the less I had, the better my experience. Many things can serve more than one purpose. Some people are accumulators and feel their self worth is measured in Stuff. Mine is measured in experiences. Marketers try to sell us so many kinds of soap, for instance, one for every task under the sun. A minimalist finds the best all purpose soaps and keeps the clutter down to a minimum.

As survivalists, the less we need for our basic comforts the more satisfied we will feel. People go into panic mode when they feel their needs are not being met or that scarcity of essential things is right around the corner. Minimalists perceive that same scarcity differently. Not everything is essential, most things are luxuries, so the level of perceived scarcity is much less threatening. Panic leads to bad decisions, and eventually disaster. A minimalist requires little, is mobile and can adapt readily.

That's basically my philosophy, in a nutshell. I've wrote about it as an ultralight backpacker at

I can't say when my Wilderness Survival Interest and fascination merged with an End Of the Power grid or End of the world survivalism thought process. Surely watching and reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy several times made a huge impact, also the craziness surrounding the possible bird flu pandemic and the fact we could be quarantined in our homes for weeks.

I've always been fascinated by survival stories, and wrote a whole thing on it, called Wondering, which can be read by following a link found on my webpage at

We humans have a host of book knowledge. Few have any true survival -homesteading skills. We are loosing this. I bought a book maybe 20 years ago, called Brain Tanning the Sioux Way, and it said that skill is being lost, few if any native Americans know how to tan a hide using the brains of an animal.

This made me realize, its the same for other skills and if they aren't passed on, we as a people, our whole sustainability will suffer.

So, no real answer here, Bruce, but my next step is to learn to hunt with various weapons, and actually utilize as much of the kill as possible.


If I actually had a place to store stuff, and stopped living the life of a transient, I'd have lots of tools and materials for surviving a national or world wide crisis. I have a lot of respect for those who have left the gerbil wheel and are prepared for grid collapse. Survivalists call mulitple systems redundancies, which are back up "plans" or tools for primary system failures. That is very smart. If a person has the room and ability to do that, excellent.

Which brings up a key point of minimalism. Being able to re-purpose, re-cycle, restore the stuff we already have is an important skill for minimalists. Instead of throwing things out and buying something new, we reshape them into the things we need.

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