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The Things You Own End Up Owning You.

“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 f***ing khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.”

This is a nod to Fight Club – specifically, the film version.

Last week, I had the pleasure of hearing someone speak about male initiation and cultural expectations. During his lecture, he kept referencing Fight Club by using quotes from the movie to reinforce the points in his lecture. The entire time I sat there, I kept thinking about how the exact same quotes apply to some core ideas behind minimalism and living a simpler life. Even though I knew that other writers already covered the correlation between Fight Club and minimalism, I resolved to share the quotes and my thoughts here anyway. Then the next morning, Dusti Arab amazingly published a post referencing Fight Club, almost exactly how I wanted to! (Great minds think alike? Maybe?)

Fight Club appeared in my life at some point during college, when I spent my time hanging out with film snobs (I say that in a loving way). It was part of my 200+ movie collection and eventually remained untouched on the shelf for a couple years until I considered selling it a couple months ago.

I liked the movie for a few reasons:

  • Brad Pitt. Enough said.
  • Where Is My Mind? by The Pixies is the closing song – excellent.
  • Pitt’s character, Tyler Durden, said some neat things that I liked to quote often.
  • That excruciating chemical burn scene.
  • I could watch it over and over and get something new from it each time.
  • My film friends liked it, so I had to like to too.

While I was vaguely aware of the film’s anti-consumerist message, it didn’t quite hit me and I couldn’t figure out exactly why I was holding onto the movie all these years aside from aforementioned reasons. Then a couple months ago, I found a few blog posts that suggested Fight Club was anti-consumerist and Tyler Durden was a minimalist. The light bulb went off in my head – that’s why I liked the movie so much! It unconsciously blended well with my anti-consumerist beliefs and desire to live a simpler life.

Look at the items you have. Look at the designer labels. How do they make you feel? Are you happy with them? Why do you buy what you buy? What kind of message are you trying to send out from the things you own? How do you perceive others based on their possessions?

Clearly, Tyler Durden is rather extreme and not a perfect citizen, but he does have plenty of words of wisdom that can be applied to minimalism, changing your life, and realizing that everyone is equally human. Allow me to turn the clock back eight years as I slip into my bitter, adolescent self. Now I’m going to quote things at you, because isn’t that all we did as teenagers? WARNING: Explicit language ahead.

The words of Tyler Durden:

If you died right now, how would you feel about your life?

I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.

It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.

Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else. (Personal favorite of mine during high school.)

Do you know what a duvet is? It’s a blanket. Just a blanket. Now why do guys like you and me know what a duvet is? Is this essential to our survival, in the hunter-gatherer sense of the word? No. What are we then? We are consumers. We’re the bi-products of a lifestyle obsession.

The things you own end up owning you.

We’re consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don’t concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy’s name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra. Fuck Martha Stewart. Martha’s polishing the brass on the Titanic. It’s all going down, man. So fuck off with your sofa units and Strinne green stripe patterns.

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 fucking khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.

Warning: If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don’t you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can’t think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all that claim it? Do you read everything you’re supposed to read? Do you think every thing you’re supposed to think? Buy what you’re told to want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping and masturbation. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you’re alive. If you don’t claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned.

Hopefully, some of these get you thinking about your own consumption.

I know it made me think about my habits and possessions.

Now, what are you going to do about it?

Remember, if this is your first night at Fight Club, you have to fight.

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11 thoughts on “The Things You Own End Up Owning You.

  1. Hi Laura! Today my blog was awarded the “Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award” and as part of my receiving this award I have been asked to “pay it forward” by bestowing this award on ten of my favorite blogs. I have chosen you! I have renamed the award “The Irresistibly Brilliant Blog Award” and am so happy to share it with you. I look forward to all of your posts and enjoy your writing and spirit very much! To learn more about the award and how you can also “Pay It Forward” check out today’s post: http://womanstoryteller.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/abundant-mind-day-23/ Wishing you well!

  2. Wow this blog really spoke to me. I have never seen Fight Club but now I am definitely interested in seeing it. But anyways, as far as myself, this is why I decided say fuck school and everything I’ve learned and follow my dreams. I am currently a senior finishing out my last semester of college, but if

    “If died right now, how would you feel about your life?”

    I would say damn I didn’t get to do what I really wanted to do because I’m stuck in school. If I died 30 years from now, and lets say i became a psychiatrist since psychology is my major I would be upset as well because I didn’t follow my heart. I don’t only think that it’s about not trying to reach materialism and have a simpler life, but I also think its about not living in accordance with another person’s standards or their american dream and defining your own.

    1. Thank you for stopping by! 🙂

      I understand the feeling of being ‘stuck in school’ and hope that I don’t leave this world before I’m done with academics – but I remind myself that I’m on the path toward a career/life that I desire and nothing can be an immediate change. It takes patience. And I will get to where I want to be.

      What does your heart want?

    1. Good to hear from you! I’m not big on social media or commenting, so that’s probably why I’ve seemed quiet lately – but all is great! 🙂

  3. Brilliant post. I think most of society suffers from being owned by their possessions. I’m trying not to be one of them. It’s a daily fight. Thanks for posting! 

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