Running Lean

I’m moving again. In the process, I took stock of my possessions and realized that I don’t have any.

There’s the DVR that I never used for anything but The Office, Intervention, The Hills and every episode of the Real World I could find. It’s hooked to a TV that sits on the floor. More white t-shirts than I can count. Sorted only by presentable and runnable. I bought a peacoat sometime during the winter on one of the rare occasions that I added to my wardrobe. A pair of Pumas that the company sent me because of a client. They’ve been out of the box exactly twice. I was supposed to get a dresser but I never got around to that either. I bought more books instead.

A legal pad full of drawings that Joe Hahn gave me. A Mont Blanc that’s probably worth more than anything else I own. I’ve been instructed how to use it ‘strategically’. They’re stacked in my closet, on top of a first edition of Belligerence and Debauchery and signed copy of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell that says “Ryan – Don’t fuck this up.”

The Books. They’re everywhere. Unshelved; I never felt like I needed any. I’ve taken recently to stacking them under my desk rendering it pretty much unusable. The rest are packed in Amazon boxes in my extra closet. From a glance I can feel what song I listened to as I read it, if I was stable or depressed or excited or hopeful. I can get drawn right back in from the stains on the pages. Carl’s Jr spicy chicken sandwiches with ranch or pepperoni and olive from Philly’s on La Cienega. Did I breeze through it or did I struggle? Well, that depends on the crack in the spine and the bends in the cover.

I feel a little like Erasmus when I look at them, “when I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.” It’s one of the few times I am proud of myself. I would die if anything ever happened to them.

I’ve got a friend who’s moving to L.A next month, borrowing money from his parents to pay more in rent than I do – plus roommates. Telling me something about how he doesn’t have the funds to start the site he desperately needs to do what he’s supposed to do. Which is like so many people, entitled about the things that don’t matter, ambivalent to the rest.

If I was doing it again, sure, I’d probably be less of a cheapskate. But I got what I needed accomplished. Many, many times over. The asset I carry around with me is worth my salaries multiplied together. Because when turn the drive from acquiring to inquiring, you start to accumulate things that no one can ever take away.

The funny thing about not having anything is that I never think about money. It’s not a concern. It’s not a burden and it’s not a curse. And I’m poised to make more than I know what to do with. Exactly where I said I wanted to be.

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.