Minimalizing

The Instigator: Getting the Job at Washburn

In early February, I made an announcement that I would be stepping down as Chair of the Department of Statistics at Truman State. I had made this decision earlier in the semester, but was waiting for an opportune time to make the official announcement. The reason for this decision was because my wife and I are living in a long distance relationship at the moment. She is the Highland Community College Perry Center Director in Perry, KS.

I wanted to make sure that the Department of Statistics had more stability than my life. I wanted the flexibility needed in traveling back and forth on any given weekend. As a small side note, I really didn’t enjoy being chair. It was a great experience, and I will be a better faculty member as a result, but I’ll just say it really wasn’t a passion of mine. 
About a week or two later, Erin brought the position at Washburn to my attention. A tenure-track position was listed as an Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Actuarial Science. The title of the position is a little deceiving, however, as it requires teaching mostly statistics and actuarial mathematics. 
My plan was to search the following academic year, but a position like this seemed to fit me well. The only problem was that the applications had started to be reviewed in December 2014. I assumed I was WAY too late. 
After contacting the Chair of the Department of Mathematics & Statistics at Washburn, I found out that they had identified top candidates and had invited them to campus, but that I should still apply. 
Well, okay then.  
I applied. Two days later they called to invite me to campus for an interview on Monday, March 9th, the first day of my Spring break. On Friday, March 13th, after the last candidate interviewed, they called me to inform me I had been selected for the position. I called the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences on the following Monday (March 16) and accepted the position after negotiations. 
Minimalizing
That week, Erin listened to the audio book “Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life.” She wanted me to read it so badly, that as soon as she got back to her place in Lawrence, she ordered the paperback on Amazon to be sent to me. Interestingly enough, after reading it, I found that this action in itself goes against the minimalism philosophy. I could have checked it out through Mobius. But… whatever. 
This truly excited me. I immediately wondered if Erin could actually minimalize as much as I could (figures that I had to turn this into a competition). I don’t have the collections that she has. I don’t have the sentimentality that she has toward inanimate objects. I knew it would be tough for her. 
It is tough for both of us. The rewards, however, are worth it. 
The book, and the essential essays you can find here, highlight five main things on which you should focus for a meaningful life. 
1. Health
2. Relationships
3. Your Passions
4. Personal Growth
5. Contribution
What you will find in thinking about your day to day activities, is that most of the shit that you own, and most of the shit that you do, does not contribute to any of those five areas. What may shock you at first, is that you don’t even know the passions you have in your life. You should let that be a HUGE SLAP IN THE FACE.  
If you don’t know what your passions are in life, then you’ve been letting your daily routine, and all of your stuff get in the way of discovering these passions. Imagine coming home to a place without cable, without internet, without a TV; a place where all you had were the essentials to living. What would you want to do? If your answer would be to go to somebody else’s place to watch TV, that is borderline pathetic, but at least you’d be working on your relationships. 
One of the main points that I thought screamed loudest in the book was to try and associate more pain with NOT CHANGING.  Understand that the long term pain of regret from eating that piece of cake, from not working out, from not doing anything, is greater than that short-term pleasure that you are receiving from eating that piece of cake, and from plopping your ass down in front of the luminescent television. 

2 thoughts on “Minimalizing

  1. Dude, great post. Maybe your best ever!

    I'm definitely reading this book now. I've messed around with the idea of minimalism in the past, but it feels like it's time to approach it systematically and examine where my time goes. Let's talk about these ideas over coffee/beer soon!

    Like

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