Categories
Journal Thrive

I See Four Lights

Today’s post is not a rerun, or an update of an older post. It’s an interlude, so I can explain why I’m taking a more time away from the internet at the moment. I see four lights.

Deadlines, respiratory infection, fascism, ecological disaster, pandemic, sure. All of that. More disturbing to me, though, is the gaslighting, the elevation of conspiracy theories over facts, and the fall of humanity into madness. The things that I have been reading about from trusted, credible sources, some of which never make the mainstream for more than a moment, as disturbing. I see four lights.

This isn’t Orwellian, even allowing for variable definitions of the term. There is no simple juxtaposition claiming one this is in fact it’s opposite; “war is peace”, “freedom is slavery”, and so on. If you want to paint with a broad brush and say that it’s a situation that poses and immediate threat to a free society, sure. I see four lights.

O’Brien held up his left hand, its back towards Winston, with the thumb hidden and the four fingers extended.

“How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?’

“Four.”

“And if the Party says that it is not four but five – then how many?”

“Four.”

The word ended in a gasp of pain. The needle of the dial had shot up to fifty-five. The sweat had sprung out all over Winston’s body. The air tore into his lungs and issued again in deep groans which even by clenching his teeth he could not stop. O’Brien watched him, the four fingers still extended. He drew back the lever.

It’s not even Kafkaesque. People think of The Metamorphosis, or horror stemming from a lack of control over surreal and absurd situations. My mind leaps toward The Trial, where the situation seems fabricated specifically to create chaos and confusion. It certainly applies to a certain amount of dehumanization, and a lack of civil rights. Even so, it seems like an organized effort more akin to Orwell’s 1984; there is, somewhere, a point to this abuse. I see four lights.

“They’re talking about things of which they don’t have the slightest understanding, anyway. It’s only because of their stupidity that they’re able to be so sure of themselves.”

What I see is downright Lovecraftian. While not on a cosmic scale, it juxtaposes what I know to be true against an unfathomable ignorance. An ignorance that insists that the world operates in a way that goes against all science and reason. That there are people in power to enforce this perspective, and declare that these demonstrably false things are reality, is even more maddening. It makes me question my place in such a world, where I cannot fit in because it does not conform to objective reality. I see four lights.

What this does is create a perpetual state of the unknown. It becomes harder to find factual truth among the propeganda, conspiracy theories, and mass hysteria. Speaking the truth seems to draw the zombie down upon you, like inquisitors falling upon a heretic. You know that this is not how the world works. Yet you are expected to go along with this insanity. I see four lights.

Slowly but inexorably crawling upon my consciousness and rising above every other impression, came a dizzying fear of the unknown; a fear all the greater because I could not analyse it, and seeming to concern a stealthily approaching menace; not death, but some nameless, unheard-of thing inexpressibly more ghastly and abhorrent.

I See Four Lights

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

Categories
Simplify Thrive

Minimalism, Austerity, and My Emotional Support Unicorn

A version of this post, Minimalism, Austerity, and My Emotional Support Unicorn, was previously published here on 19 July 2018. 

Hey, look, I know that there are some famous minimalist gurus who do everything in black and white. Others seem to go monochromatic, or use a lot of white space. As a symbolic gesture or a way to establish a style for your brand, it works. That doesn’t mean that your life has to be drab. Getting rid of stuff you don’t need or want to make space for the things you do means just that. It’s one area where I agree with the nice Japanese lady; if a thing makes you happy, it’s a valid reason to hang onto it.

As I’ve stated before, my bullet journal is not an arts-and-craft project that doubles as a productivity system. It’s a productivity system that I leverage with color-coding. I also tend to doodle while I think. Pens, highlighters, and Washi tape fits in with that. But I also live in a country where it’s dark and depressing for a good part of the year. Do you know what helps with that, psychologically? Bright, happy colors. I own useful things, and many happen to be pretty. That’s all within the “rules” of simple living minimalism.

How Much Constitutes Enough is Subjective

Yes, I am aware that there are minimalists who only own 100 things. Or 50. Or some other completely subjective number. There are various reasons people do this, some of which are valid. I follow a couple of minimalists that travel the world. They need to keep the number of items they take with them down to the most practical lower limit. Some people live in tiny homes, or can only afford ridiculously small apartments. There are some, like me, who know that their housing situation is ultimately temporary and they’ll have to move at some point. I hate moving, so the less I own, the less annoying it will be.

I think that there is an objective amount of stuff that constitutes “too much”. If you can’t walk through a room, you probably have an excessive amount of stuff. A vast collection of broken and useless objects is likely unnecessary. Things you haven’t used or looked at in years would qualify. Beyond that, though, it really is subjective. Oh no, I own 9 rolls of Washi tape! Well, yeah. It takes up virtually no space and I probably dropped a whole €8 on it, if that much. I rarely spend money on myself. It also gets used, and it adds some non-austere visual interest to the journal I live out of every single day. I don’t think I’ve lost the plot here.

Color is a Thing That Exists

Let’s go back to that part above where I mentioned moving. If we have a choice, we will remain here in Finland, in this city. It could be another city, though.  We could even end up in another country. Moving is inevitable. I’ve been living in this state of temporariness, this holding pattern of sorts, for six years. I am ready to have a permanent based of operations again. Not necessarily so I can spread out, but to maybe be able to buy some things — large things, heavy things, expensive things — that I know I’ll be able to hold onto, and not have to sell off because they’d be too expensive to ship to wherever we end up moving to.

My world comes down to Katie, my laptop, and my journal. Everything else is replaceable. Furniture, cookware, bedding, it’s all just stuff. I can probably get all of my clothes into one suitcase. The pens, tape, and other accessories that goes with journaling can get thrown into the backpack I use as a laptop bag. So why can’t I have a few objects, like my teddy bears and my emotional support unicorn, as the anchors that identify the space I occupy as “home”?

The bottom line is that the things that I have are not only useful, but especially meaningful to me. That’s because I do have so few things. I’ve loosened up a bit lately, for the sake of mental health and self-care, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve fallen entirely off the simple living wagon. All I’ve done is adjust my own definitions of what I want, and what I’m willing to make space for, to accommodate my own changing needs.

Minimalism, Austerity, and My Emotional Support Unicorn

This is the latest in a series of posts on Simple Living Minimalism. If you enjoy my posts you can buy me a coffee. Consider subscribing below, so you can read my daily ramblings about the writer’s life, minimalist, being a spoonie, and the intersection of all of those things.

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

Categories
Simplify Thrive

Exploring the Concept of Spoonie Minimalism

A version of this post, Exploring the Concept of Spoonie Minimalism, was previously published here on 8 March 2019. 

Over the past week I’ve been ill. I really don’t want to get into it, because I’m not here for sympathy, but it’s a case of multiple things converging, and one ailment exacerbating another. The part that’s useful and constructive is that I had to prioritize what absolutely needed to be done, because I don’t have the strength or energy for anything beyond those essential tasks. It made me appreciate that fact that I’m already a minimalist. I also grew to accept the self-applied label of spoonie even more. What I started to picture in my head was a Venn diagram where the two overlapped. I’m officially calling it “spoonie minimalism”. Here are some preliminary thoughts; this is probably going to be a work-in-progress.

My Take on Minimalism

I’ve always defined minimalism as getting rid of what you don’t need or want in order to make space for the things you do. Most people see this as material possessions and clutter. It also extended to not spending money where you don’t have to, so you can afford necessities and a few luxury items. Don’t waste time on tasks that don’t serve some larger purpose, so that you have time for stuff that’s actually important. Never waste time on toxic relationships, giving you space to establish healthy ones.

The new factor that I’ve added is getting rid of unnecessary tasks that sap your strength, so you have the energy to do the things you truly need and want to do. This hit me on some very fundamental levels. I love to cook, but I realized I don’t have to prepare a full meal in order to feed myself.

When I need to save my strength for other things, I can let that go. It’s okay to have some fruit and a piece of toast, make a simple sandwich, or a bowl of yogurt and muesli. If I’m going to the store, and can only carry so much, I have to be sure to only get the items we absolutely need. Even going from one room to the other to get something has been a bit of a planned trip; the kitchen is only three meters away, but why make five trips if you can make one?

Minimalist Spoon Theory

Spoon theory states that people with chronic illnesses only have a finite amount of energy, and they need to spend it wisely. Everything they choose to do has a cost. This means that things need to be prioritized. Choices have to be made. You start by determining what is necessary. From there, you have to look at what yields a return, the things that will be beneficial later. Sometimes that’s “I should do that now, because later I won’t have the spoons for it”. When possible, you need to save some of your spoons for things that make you happy, just to keep yourself sane.

All of which dovetails with various takes on minimalism. Sometimes it’s not about what sparks joy, it’s about what doesn’t leave you exhausted. It’s not always about what’s beautiful, it’s about what’s convenient and doesn’t cause pain. Fewer possessions means less cleaning and maintenance. A concise task list means getting the most value from the smallest number of actions. It’s never about less for the sake of less. It’s less for the sake of not having the strength to do more. Like time and money, energy is a finite resource that needs to be carefully budgeted for maximum impact.

Simple Living Spoonie

My big learning of the past week is that I need to stop finding resources – time, money, strength – for things that aren’t worth it. You’ve only got 24 hours in a day. There’s only a certain amount of money in your bank about. You can only do so much before you’re too tired. You’re in too much pain to function. There are obligations to be met, things that need to be done, but you also need to save something for yourself.

Spoonie minimalism is the fusion of productivity and self-care. If I can get eight hours of work done today, then I will get eight hours of work done. I will make the most of those hours. But if I only have the energy to work for an hour, I need to make that the most productive hour possible, and then not feel guilty or ashamed of the fact that I need to take an extra seven hours to recharge my batteries and tend to my health.

Exploring the Concept of Spoonie Minimalism

This is the latest in a series of posts on Simple Living Minimalism. If you enjoy my posts you can buy me a coffee. Consider subscribing below, so you can read my daily ramblings about the writer’s life, minimalist, being a spoonie, and the intersection of all of those things.

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

 

Categories
Create Journal Thrive

If You Have Time to Doomscroll, You Have Time to Read

At the moment I only have a business presence on Twitter, and no personal account. I find it moderately beneficial to see what’s going on in my publishing niche. Even though I’m bad at it for various reasons, I attempt to contribute to and participate in the community. Still, I’ve just uninstalled it from my phone and replaced it with an eReader app. If you have time to doomscroll, you have time to read.

I know someone’s going to say that’s judgmental toward people that don’t read. It’s not about them, it’s about me. Reading is far more productive for me. A few minutes taking in a chapter of a marketing book, or a volume on improving my copywriting skills, will get me further in life than seeing peoples’ reactions to the latest bout of fascist douchebaggering or incredulous science denial. Even if I read a few pages of a novel, that has a positive effect on my mental health. Reading what the trolls and bots are spreading, not so much.

When I do want to engage on Twitter, I do so from my laptop. That means I’m at my desk, in my workspace. It goes a long way toward separating work-time from not work-time.

If You Have Time to Doomscroll…

If you enjoy my posts (maybe not this one, because, you know), you can buy me a coffee. Consider subscribing below, so you can read my daily ramblings about the writer’s life, minimalist, being a spoonie, and the intersection of all of those things.

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

Categories
Journal Thrive

Why My Heel Turn is Inevitable

At some point there’s going to be a heel turn. There are so many things, and so many people, that I’m fed up with. I’ve been pushed to the very edge of civility, by uncivil people who somehow are allowed to get away with being rude, crude, and willfully ignorant. At some point I’m going to cut loose, and it’s not going to be pretty, and I’m going to end up as the villain of the story.

Some of this springs from a personal theory I call the Transitive Property of Asshole. In pointing out to someone that they are being an asshole, you somehow become the asshole. Understandably, people don’t like being held accountable and lash out. Pointing out that people are being rude is, somehow, even more rude. Whataboutism comes into play at this point, where your own shortcomings and past failures are brought up as if that somehow makes the other person’s action acceptable. Punching a Nazi is treated is if it’s more offensive than being an actual Nazi. I’m pretty sure that, by definition, having issues with people who are against fascism puts you squarely on the side of the fascists.

I just can’t with people any more.

Since tribalism is now firmly established in the United States, I have to be the villain to someone. The whole “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” mentality is so juvenile. If you’re not clearly us, you must be them, and there is no subtlety or nuance, no shades of gray. Anyone not a brand-name Conservative is a Communist. If you’re not a leftist, which include a lot of Democrats in spite of what Republicans think, then you’re a fascist. Those who aren’t Evangelical Christians are Satanists, mic drop, time to hook up with the pool boy. 

So if these are the rules, and I’m going to be a villain to someone no matter what I do, I might as well lean into it.

Of course I’m joking.

At least, that’s my intention. The other day I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to catch a fly. It would not leave me alone, and it was annoying the hell out of me. Rather than swat him, smash him, kill him, I tried to guide him to the nearest open window to guide him out. Why kill him? He’s bring a fly. That’s what he does. I finally managed to trap him under a plastic container lid, took him out onto the patio, and released him.

I said I was going to turn heel. I didn’t say I’d be particularly good at it.

Why My Heel Turn is Inevitable

If you enjoy my posts (maybe not this one, because, you know), you can buy me a coffee. Consider subscribing below, so you can read my daily ramblings about the writer’s life, minimalist, being a spoonie, and the intersection of all of those things.

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.