Minimalism and My Dad’s Big Pants

A long time ago, too long to mention, I went on a road trip from London to The Algarve with three friends. We planned to be away for three weeks and while packing I realised I didn’t own anything like 21 pairs of pants.

I was a young man with no intention whatsoever of washing anything while I was away, so what was I to do?

Having been vegan from a very young age I was (and still am) quite slight. My father on the other hand couldn’t get enough animal inside him and was a good deal more portly. So it wasn’t an ideal plan but with no other option, I “borrowed” a few pairs of his pants.

I figured the best thing to do was to wear them on the journey so I had my cool boxers for when I got there.

We left home around 6pm and drove all night through France, arriving in San Sebastian at around 8am the next morning. We checked into a hotel and then hit the bar.

Five pints later my friend Bill and I decided to go to the beach. It was so hot and the bay at San Sebastian is a sun trap and really warms the water. We couldn’t resist it. We started stripping down until it hit me that I was wearing my dad’s big pants.

The beer out voted common sense and in I went. It was lovely, clear warm water, we stayed in for ages.

Sometime later we decided to get out. We didn’t have any towels with us but figured the sun would dry us off in no time.

I was having to hold my dad’s big pants up at this point because when they got wet, they got even bigger, like really big, especially around the waist! I just needed to get my jeans on and all would be good.

But there was a problem. We got to where we left our clothes on the beach and they were gone. Everything was gone. We didn’t have our valuables on us so that wasn’t an issue, I just kept thinking that the hotel was at least a mile from the beach and I would have to walk there holding my dad’s pants up.

I was 22, wearing nothing but a huge pair of dark blue Y Fronts that I had to hang on to otherwise they would fall down and I had to walk in bare feet, topless, for half an hour like that through the streets of San Sebastian. Not cool.

At that moment I would have given anything for a pair of jeans, a T-shirt and a pair of flip flops.

In recent years I have tried to live a minimalist lifestyle. I have two pairs of jeans and a pair of trousers. A few polo shirts, a few T-shirts, a pair of shorts and two pairs of shoes.

Thinking about it, I do have quite a few pairs of boxer shorts and I could live with less, I’m not getting rid of them though, lesson learned!

Other than to give you all a good laugh at my expense, the moral of this story, which is 100% true by the way, is that having more and more “things” is not what makes us happy. We think it will because we’re all told to get more, buy more stuff, but in reality it really doesn’t.

Happiness is being around people you care for and who care for you. It’s about a beautiful sunset, a kind word or hearing a song you haven’t heard for ages on the radio. It’s hugging someone you love, hearing good news or doing a good deed.

You can’t buy these things; you can’t buy happiness, joy or love. When you look back on your life, these are the things that will mean the most to you.

After frantically searching the beach for our clothes a kind Spanish man approached us and in broken English basically told us that while we had been in the sea the tide had come in and he had moved our clothes to the back of the beach. He took us to them.

I can’t tell you how happy I was and still remember it vividly all these years later.

Be happy with what you have, give as much as you can to others who need help, be kind to each other and please, stop hurting animals.

Nick Bean

Environmentalist, activist, writer and public speaker. Decided to "Go Vegan" at the age of four.

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