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I’m a minimalist. Steve Minonimalist. I’m addicted to discarding things I no longer like or need and I only feel comfortable when it’s all gone.

I’m drawn to things like those impossibly architectural 72sqm mini-houses in Tokyo, not for the cleverness of the design. I imagine myself in a bagging and donating frenzy, scaling back to a single suitcase of possessions for the journey there, knowing when I travel, no matter how long I’m traveling for, I’ll only take cabin baggage. Something small on wheels that I know I can pick up and run with if I have to.

I think it’s the freedom of Minonimalism I love. Or rather, the ease of flight. I guess I’m a potential runaway.

What drives my Minonimalism is a desire to leave myself behind and start again. It’s not just a romantic notion. It’s a survival thing. For me, there’s always the potential that my world will get too much for me to deal with and that I may one day feel the need to flee it.

It’s not that I shirk responsibility. On the contrary, loose ends torture me. I’ve always finished what I’ve started. What’s more, I don’t even like to start something that I won’t finish. I just have to sort stuff out, which is exactly why I try not to have too much stuff around to sort.

My life, as a result of this tendency to escape is relatively obligation free. My business runs itself. Though I have family and I have friends, my dog is the only person in my life who really depends on me and even he could adapt if I ran away. I’d be off, scott-free.

Or so I imagined until a simple listing I found one day in the classifieds of my morning newspaper woke me up from this fantasy. It was in the birthdays section. It said, “BLUNDEN EMMA – Happy birthday for 3rd July. Please contact us. Love from your dad and step-mum.”

Of course I can’t assume anything about this listing, but the “please contact us” does suggest there may be more to this story than a simple birthday hello.

How long had it been since Emma had spoken to her dad and step-mum? How many birthdays ago had they last seen her? If they’d been driven to posting a classified in the birthday section of The Courier-Mail (there was only one listing that day, so it’s clearly not a popular section) had they exhausted all other avenues of contact? Wherever Emma is, will she even read the newspaper? This particular newspaper?

The desperation in Emma’s dad’s birthday wish is palpable in its minimalism. He probably doesn’t want to scare her away by making too many emotional demands on her so it’s just a simple happy birthday and a request to call. I hope she gets the message. I hope she knows her dad and step-mum care. I hope that whatever it was that may have driven her away is resolved and gets better. Really, I hope she’s just been too busy to call her family.

As for my own glorious escape flight into the great unknown, it is nothing more than a fantasy. Though I’d love to do it, I couldn’t because of the people around me who’d be left behind in the vacuum, missing me, sad that I’ve gone, having dark days when they imagine the worst. Those dark days are the shadows that missing people leave behind them, and no matter how good you are at running away, you can’t run from a shadow.

So, please Emma, stay safe. Happy birthday, and please call your dad and step-mum. I’m pretty sure they miss you.

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