The Prune: Establish your style in three words: Read this now


by Todd Sharp

“Style is based on limitations.”
— John Hartford

I’ve been working on a minimal, non-invasive, and repurposed lifestyle. The clothing I wear, furniture I make, the dwelling I do life in, the activities I pursue; hopefully the time, money, and energy I spend transcend my intentions.

These self-imposed limitations along with career choices, personal interest, and the folks I’ve met define the style I live.

I had a setback last month. My trusty, 9-year-old, 178,000- mile British racing green Mini Cooper unexpectedly started chugging up hills and quickly died.

I needed to find different transportation, and it was going to cost me; I hadn’t had a car payment in 15 years.

Unprepared, I started looking for a low-mileage used car, hoping to repurpose someone else’s decision to trade or sell.

The car had to be economical and environmental friendly, as low-impact on the world as possible.

The Tesla 3 would be a great choice but cost and availability made the urgency of replacing my quickly failing car a priority.

I needed to find something local.

Style is based on limitations of choice.

If funds and travel plans were unlimited, maybe I wouldn’t need a car. Large cities have airports, Uber, town cars, public transportation and bicycle lanes.

All definite style choices.

The limitations of living in a small town reduce these particular choices and make me dependent on a personal vehicle; no public transportation, few Uber drivers (thanks Larry), an hour-and-a-half ride to the airport.

Constraints can provide a framework with which to find creativity. If every choice in the entire world is before you, it’s difficult to focus. Difficult to choose.

It may seem counterintuitive to limit the creative process by establishing boundaries and tightening restrictions, yet focus and simplicity clarify a confounding process like deciding which car to buy.

As the initial excitement of the “new” car smell wore off, buyer’s remorse set in.

I was talking about my old car like an old lover or friend. “Oh I used to be able to pull into the parking place nose first, no need to parallel park.” “No trouble. I could always find a tiny little spot.” “It had such zip and peppy energy.”

After you drive something for nine years it’s hard to get over it overnight.

I was surprised how many people expressed common sentiments when told about my new car.

“How am I going to know it’s you? I always recognize your car.”

Maybe I had driven a unique brand of car, but did it somehow define me? Am I losing some of my identity having bought a different car?

It was the style I was losing not my identity.

I’ll leave the jokes to someone else.

Here’s a challenge I found online — tell your story in just three words.

Try it.

Somehow the limits make it both easier and harder.

Rambunctious life change.

Boring story teller.

Father of Zak.

Rambunctious story pedaler.

Write a handful and see if there is a consistency in three words which best describe your life.

Here are my newest:

Red Chevy Cruze.

Editor’s note: Here are our three words for Todd Sharp: “advertising sales prune.” He sells for the Green Laker, Express and The Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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