Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

The Tao of Fight Club

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We at LifeEdited are staunchly nonviolent, but a recent viewing of, and subsequent reminder from our friends over at Unstash, revealed the many pearls of wisdom dispensed between bloody brawls in the movie Fight Club. The 1999 flick starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter, based on the Chuck Palahniuk (pronounced Paul-uh-nick, if you were ever wondering) novel of the same name, is a commentary on society’s obsession with a consumer lifestyle we can never quite attain–and the subsequent liberation through, well, fighting (it’s way more nuanced than it sounds).

Please note: The following quotes–most deliberately taken out of context–are not our endorsement of any or all ideas expressed in Fight Club.

Tyler Durden: You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your [expletive] khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.

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Narrator: You buy furniture. You tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. Buy the sofa, then for a couple years you’re satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you’ve got your sofa issue handled. Then the right set of dishes. Then the perfect bed. The drapes. The rug. Then you’re trapped in your lovely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you.

Tyler Durden: Reject the basic assumptions of civilization, especially the importance of material possessions.

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Narrator: Tyler, I’m grateful to you; for everything that you’ve done for me. But this is too much. I don’t want this.

Tyler: What do you want? Wanna go back to the [expletive] job, [expletive] condo world, watching sitcoms? [Expletive] you, I won’t do it.

Marla Singer: I got this dress at a thrift store for one dollar.

Narrator: It was worth every penny.

Marla Singer: It’s a bridesmaid’s dress. Someone loved it intensely for one day, and then tossed it. Like a Christmas tree. So special. Then, bam, it’s on the side of the road.

  • djrr55

    Oh, so true. I say that, sitting inside my large home, surrounded by stuff. At least most of that stuff gets used and a lot of it is old. Like the laminate kitchen countertops I’ve just finished cleaning. They aren’t quartz, they aren’t granite, they bear a few scars, but they’re still useful and look OK. Just not “updated.” Who cares? Not me.

  • mxytsplyk

    The first and best reason for small space living: Not needing all the junk others just have to have.

  • bonsaiman

    sums it up really. This week got rid of 2 x cameras (free donation). Stack of ps2 games. stuff that does not provide value to me anymore.

  • Diana McQuady

    “Narrator: You buy furniture. You tell yourself, this is the last
    sofa I will ever need in my life. Buy the sofa, then for a couple years
    you’re satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you’ve got
    your sofa issue handled. Then the right set of dishes. Then the perfect
    bed. The drapes. The rug. Then you’re trapped in your lovely nest, and
    the things you used to own, now they own you.”

    This one really hit me. How true!

    • Marrena

      It’s funny, I feel the exact opposite. I feel like The Man owns me, so the more I can do to make myself self-sufficient, the more items I own that can do that, the more freedom I have. I belong to an organic produce co-op, and for $30 a week I get a lot of my food for the week. But most of it needs to be cooked, so I have a pressure cooker. That way I don’t have to buy expensive, unhealthy preprocessed food, and it doesn’t take me forever to cook it.

      Likewise, I bought two very large drying racks for my basement, so I don’t have to keep paying the laundromat for dryer time during the winter (and wasting energy).

      I have insulated blinds on my windows and merino wool clothes and socks, so I can keep my heat turned way down.

      I have a hybrid car so I don’t spend as much money on gas, and I’d like to get a Chevy Volt when my Prius finally bites it. And most of the time I take public transportation.

      I have cloth napkins, microfiber cleaning cloths, handkerchiefs, a mooncup, washable cotton pantyliners, Kleen Kanteens, and a waterproof steel tiffin for bringing my lunch to work, so I don’t have to buy a lot of disposable stuff. And I have lots of rubber-sealed big glass containers so I can buy food in bulk.

      All that stuff was more expensive initially (although it will save me lots of money over time), and it’s all stuff, bulky. But my lifestyle centers around three things: save energy (especially energy from non-renewable sources), zero waste, and give my money to the local community rather than big corporations. So yes, my stuff in a sense owns me, but it frees me too, to live the life I want to live.

      • Diana McQuady

        I guess for me the idea of the original quote and my personal experience is that because I own stuff, some of my decisions about work and where I live are dictated to a degree by said stuff (how much space I need, how much can I afford in a certain city, etc. and then moving costs…) I do a lot of the same things you do, Marrena. But I feel weighted down by stuff right now. I want some, and I want to make good environmental choices, but I’d like to be more mobile.

        BTW, I don’t have a hybrid, but my 18-year-old car is in good condition and doesn’t get a lot of miles on it in a year, probably about 6,500. There is no good public transportation where I live (only recently has public transportation come into play at all). I’d love to not have a car, which brings me back to the quote.

        Thanks for your post. I’m going to look into a couple of things you mention there.

  • Lucy

    Reminds me of a line I read in “What’s Mine is Yours” by Rachel Bostman: The more we consume the less space we have to be anything other
    than consumers.

  • ahemahem

    We have a 5-bedroom and the 5 kids are gone. We needed it for them and the home office. Now we’re stuck with it because if we buy smaller, the taxes will be much higher.

    What to do.

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