Interview: Further Questions for Everett Bogue
Bright Lights and Planet Earth by Steve Johnson
Well! After the all the strong opinions on my and others’ posts about Everett Bogue turning off the comments on his blog, I thought it would be interesting to take him up on his public offer to be interviewed. He was cheerfully game to answer a few questions beyond the usual “how did you become a minimalist” sort. If you aren’t familiar with him and his work, check out his blog, Far Beyond the Stars. This was an email interview, so it doesn’t have any of the fake radio-show introductions, etc. Many thanks to Everett for his participation!
MW: Your story is well-known. I find the stripped-down freedom in your thinking inspiring and have often said so to others. But inquiring minds want to know: what if? Imagine yourself twenty or thirty years older, caring for family members (aging parents, special needs children, etc.) and unable to leave a backwater town that doesn’t even have a bus service, let alone bike lanes. Is it possible to be free as you have defined it? If so, how would you go about it?
EB: I can only speak from the place that I currently occupy, and I’m under no illusions that I’m in a privileged position being a 20-something year old with an education and a little bit of computer savvy.
That being said, I know plenty of people in the exact same situation as me who aren’t living their lives. They’re trapped in low-paying day jobs, buying junk on nights and weekends that they think will make them happy. It won’t.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to live in a backwater town without bus service. If I did live there, I’d get out ASAP. The magic of minimalism is it allows you to realize that you can never really be trapped, and that you can and should pursue what is important to you.
If what is important to you is caring for aging parents in a town without bus service, there’s definitely a way that reducing your possessions can allow you to pursue that goal better.
There’s always a balance between the needs of others and the needs of ourselves.
MW: Do you think it is possible to live as you do and have a long-term significant other? I know Leo Babauta and Joshua Becker both have wives and families and are pretty minimalist. Would you go more “practical minimalism” if it meant getting married?
EB: Maybe! I totally can’t say because I’m not getting married anytime soon. I think anyone who I would get married to would have to have similar values to me. For instance, valuing freedom over junk. There’s got to be someone out there who wants to pursue a freedom lifestyle with another person, right?
MW: Now that you’ve turned off comments on your blog for a while, what has been the result? Is it what you expected? Do you miss it? Would you consider turning them back on? If so, under what circumstances?
EB: My #1 objective with turning off comments on my blog is to direct people’s energy in better ways. This interview is an example of how you and others can direct your energy better.
I met a girl last night who told me a story about how she moved to San Francisco and the first thing she did when she tried to get a job was call up the Myth Busters and ask if she could meet with them. They said yes, and they sat around a table and talked about set design.
This is the kind of forward and active thinking that I want my readers to engage in. Commenting is just a passive way of expressing yourself without any real world consequences. A comment, especially on a blog as large as mine has grown, is left and forgotten instantly by both the reader and the author of the blog.
MW: I’ve seen a lot of comments critical of your saying that people should not waste their time posting comments on your blog. Would you like to clarify that statement or give us a new angle on it?
EB: We need to start engaging in the web in a more active fashion — the way you’re doing with this interview.
It’s hard to hear this for some people, but it’s the truth. This means starting our own blogs, writing about work that matters to us, interviewing people who are making change, and having opinions on our own blogs that matter.
This is how we change the world. Not with comments. This is why I turned them off.
MW: Let’s move to the future. I saw on Twitter that you are considering “going Paleo.” I take that to mean a la prehistoric man, and it makes me think of the saying that life back then was nasty, brutish, and short. Of course there are fewer saber-toothed tigers these days, but can you give us an idea what this entails?
EB: Definitely. The idea behind the paleo diet is that we’re not very good at eating post-agricultural foods. Stuff like refined sugars, grains, and especially man-made processed foods are messing with our bodies. The reason for this is because we haven’t evolved very long eating this junk, so we end up with obesity and other problems. There’s a lot of research that suggests that just eating plants, berries, nuts, fruits and meat can make you incredibly healthier.
I’m still in the research phase though, actually cutting sugar and breads from my diet will be a challenge.
Meg here: This was a lot of fun and I plan to do more interviews in the very near future!