Life is all about balance. Between pleasure and duty; between desires and reality.
I can’t seem to find a good mix between my Maker side, and my Minimalist side.

On the one side is my obsession with creating things, fixing broken stuff, and modifying and generally tinkering constantly with electronics, bikes, cars, you name it. This makes a huge pile of parts, pieces, bits, odds and ends.

On the other side is the rest of my personality which is driven to simplify, refine, purge and clarify. I don’t like stuff lying about unorganized, and I also resent the time I have to spend thinking about the detritus of my life. I see those pictures of the minimalist rooms with everything perfectly aligned and nothing out of place and I am frustrated at my own lack of zen.

A few times a year I set out to just drop anything unnecessary, and get rid of all this clutter in my mind and also in my house, but each time I go through the boxes of parts that I keep organized, I feel torn.

Why can’t I be single faceted?


A Clutter-Free Life

Lately I have become obsessed with the idea of a clutter free life; and consequently a clutter free mind.

There is an old saying:

“The more you own; the more what you own, owns you.”

I really have begun to feel that way. it seems that I am simply full of stuff. Little things that take up my time and consideration. Part of this is not so much what I have, but how I have it organized. If I compartmentalize my life I don’t have this problem, I can do what I need to do without the various pieces getting in the way of each-other.

For instance all of my photography equipment, lenses, cases, lighting etc. I don’t feel overwhelmed by any of this because it is all neatly in cases ready to be used whenever I wish. The same with my gadgeteering parts and tools, I have it all catalogued and it is simply there for me to access whenever I have the need to do so. My data archives are getting there, I have been steadily moving and consolidating ten years of writings, photos, and other data into one vast data library, this is some progress, and it is encouraging.

5 Day Trip (Packing List)


This Mind-Map is a list of everything I took with me on a 5 day trip to Portland.
As you can see I went light and minimal.
The one thing I decided to take regardless of need, is my classic Voigtlander Vito II camera. Yes it is 60 years old and l could easily just take photos with my iPhone, but there is something special about that camera. I love it.
I also took along a Weston Master III light meter. Again old: it was made in the late 40s, but in conjunction with the Vito, it is like stepping back in time.

This is the first trip I have made that I have decided to leave my MacBook at home, and take my iPad instead. I debated this decision for a while, but in the end decided that if there was anything I really needed a full fledged computer for, I would just VNC back to my Mac at home. This trip is for pleasure anyway, I am going to try and avoid any ‘real work’ if I can.


Another what’s in my bag photo, I haven’t done one of these for a long
time, and much has changed.
I now have been carrying a classic film camera instead of the digital
that used to stay in my bag, it’s a Voigtlander Vito II (from 1954)

The light meter is a Weston Master II.

I also have one of the new Moleskine Folio watercolor notebooks, which
brings the total number of Moleskines I carry to 4. (why I need 4, I’m
not sure I can explain)

I also have a 500GB WD Passport Essential that I keep media on.

I carry this bag about 4 days a week, and it’s contents suit my needs

-Ezra Hilyer

The exposure of this one is not the best…
This shows that over the last six months has not changed that much.
The delicate balance of useful things in my bag is something I have to fight to maintain, I am too easily prone to put too many things in my bag, and then later find out that i am carrying 10lbs of things that I don’t use.
I try to pare them down to a useful few, but that is often not the case.
Here is a photo of my bag as it was in late January 2011, the things I use frequently, but little else. I have a few luxuries here, (like the watercolor set, and the pencils) but the majority of these things, I use constantly.
I have been planning to switch to an even smaller bag to force myself to go even lighter, as carrying this all day is hard on my shoulders!
MacBook air, (now starting to feel a little old)