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A Letter from the Editor

If there was one line that stuck out to me during my interview with author Greg McKeown, it was when he told me that he wasn’t convinced he wrote a great book, he was simply convinced there was a great problem.

Not only was his statement wonderfully humble, but that “great problem” — the problem of busyness and mental chaos — is something I understand too well. I’m aware of its hold, both on a personal and societal level. And I’ve been passionate for many years about saying “no” to busyness, reducing the number of inputs in my life, in hopes that I might better focus on what is most important.

The thing is, you can’t always control the inputs. Life has a way of piling on the shit just when you think you’ve hit your limit (see: 2016). But one thing we can control is getting better at identifying the right things amidst the noise. Developing a better filter for incoming messages, and creating habits that help us choose what is important. And to do so regularly. And with clarity. And without spending a weighty amount of time (and discipline) doing so.

But this is far easier said than done (I say this, unfortunately, from personal experience). To this end, Greg’s book, Essentialism, has been of exceptional help to me. It has led me to question the “what” underneath everything. What is this, really? What am I trying to accomplish here, truly? Does this thing/product/activity/person align with my pursuit of those things that are most essential?

Which then begs the question: what are those things that are most essential? Well, for me, they mostly boil down to work, play, hospitality, health, contemplation, adventure, sharing life, and sharing love. It’s not simply about doing fewer things, it’s about doing the right things. As Greg so aptly puts it, “If the problem is the undisciplined pursuit of more, the answer is the disciplined pursuit of less, but better.”

That less, but better philosophy is an anchor for us at Classfare. We’re always in pursuit of those people and brands and products that exemplify it. But we’re also in pursuit of exercising it in our lives. For me, sometimes that means not buying the thing. Sometimes it means buying the right thing. Sometimes it means slowing down and doing nothing. Sometimes it means speeding up and doing that thing I’ve been putting off. But no matter what it means, it’s doing so with presence to what is most essential.

So, in light of this season’s celebration of mindless consumption and gifting in excessive volumes, we felt it was of interest to identify a set of “essential things” for the month of December. We considered not only those products that exemplify the traits of their respective product categories, but we also considered the essential activity that each product supports, attempting to honor both the how as well as the what. Because each item is ultimately just that: an item that helps us experience a much more essential practice. So as you go about your essential practices, you can do so with products designed to last. Designed with beauty and function. Designed with an essential purpose in mind.

Even if that purpose is simply to have a damn good time.

Ian Deming, Editor-in-Chief