Meet Daniel Norris. Daniel is a MLB pitcher with the Toronto Blue Jays with an extremely bright future ahead of him. At 21-years-of-age, he’s known for his 92-mile-an-hour fastball and he is considered the 25th overall top prospect in major league baseball. Now, on any other given day, I couldn’t care less because I hate baseball. It’s boring and I don’t get it.
The reason I decided to profile Daniel is due to his unconventional lifestyle. Despite being a multi-millionaire (he received a $2 million signing bonus with the Blue Jays), he lives off of $800 a month, and resides in a broken down 1978 Volkswagen camper van equipped with a solar panel which is currently parked beside the dumpsters in a Walmart parking lot. This man defines “non-conformist minimalism”. He was brought up with a strong value system to play outdoors, love the Earth, live simply and use only what you need.
He has always marched to the beat of his own drum and leads a low-key, healthy lifestyle. A self-described hippie, he has never tried drugs or alcohol, loves to take camping trips alone, his favourite possession is a surfboard made of recycled foam, he avoids tv and his first corporate relationship as a major league pitcher was with an environmental organization called 1% for the Planet. Additionally, despite making seven figures with the MLB, he decided to take on a job working 40-hours a week at an outdoor outfitter and refused to share an apartment with two MLB teammates to instead sleep in a hammock. WOW. Just WOW.
I can’t imagine ever living this sort of lifestyle, but I admire it. Living in a time where everything is driven by consumerism and capitalism, I find Daniel’s lifestyle admirable and refreshing. It seems every time you turn on a tv or flip through a magazine, you are hit with a barrage of ads urging “Buy as much as possible! Consume as much as possible! Why use the things you already have when you can buy more shiny, new things???”. I think it’s about time a lot of us reassess. Case in point: my neighbour puts out over 10 bags of garbage at the curb for pick up each garbage day. He has a family of four and I always wonder what the hell they are consuming and throwing out. Growing up, our family of five never, ever came close to this much garbage production!
Lately, I’ve been thinking more and more about this culture of consumerism and consumption. With a closet burgeoning with barely worn clothing, more shoes than I can count and a nail polish collection so large its absolutely embarrassing, I’m thinking it’s time to make a few changes. Now, I know my close friends and family are reading this and probably rolling their eyes, but I mean it. It’s starting to feel a little gross lusting after bags and other accessories that cost more than downpayments on very expensive cars.
I’ve been more conscious of what I’m consuming – carefully composting and recycling as much as possible, and really assessing things I plan to purchase. I also plan on using up what I have (especially cosmetics) before buying more. I’ve started cooking large batches of food for freezing and walking more instead of driving. I watch less tv and started plowing through those stacks of books I’ve been planning to read forever.
Maybe you are asking yourself “Why is this blogger who is obsessed with fashion and beauty thinking this way?”. Well, easy answer. My husband is overseas on a work assignment and I’m living alone for the moment. We live in a comfortable four-bedroom house and now that he’s gone, it feels huge and empty. Sometimes I wonder if we need all of this space, especially since we have no kids. I also think a lot about how fortunate Ryan and I are to live so comfortably. We each have a car, we have all sorts of creature comforts and we really want for nothing. I work with a person whose contract is about to end and he’s saving cash to prepare for a possible period of unemployment. Thinking about that puts my own life into perspective. Those jeans I just bought are a car payment for him. The total cost of my nail polish collection could put food on the table for a family for weeks. To say I have “shopping guilt” is a huge understatement.
While shopping is fun, it really is not therapy. That high you get from buying something you really wanted (or didn’t even realize you wanted) never lasts…but the debt can if you are living outside of your means. I think it’s important to check in with yourself and take stock of everything you have to be happy for, re-evaluate personal goals, and measure your progress in working towards them.
Is it reasonable to feel so dissatisfied and hard done by when you cannot buy those shoes “you must have”? It is right to measure your value by the amount of stuff you own? Should we be shopping at stores like H&M and Forever 21 that push poorly made clothing on the masses, manufactured in turn by the poor? Should we maybe start shopping at the locally-owned shops that offer sustainable wares instead?
Just some thoughts I wanted to share…
What do you guys think? Have these thoughts crossed your mind at all? Please feel free to share in the comments section.