Thoughts on Minimalism
I just read two articles this morning on minimalist living. The first one profiled the stress of having too much stuff. It was the usual article on how our desire to purchase everything we see is keeping us from living any kind of fulfilling life. The second article discussed the problems of a minimalist lifestyle. The writer found this lifestyle boring and empty, as memories and color are tossed out of ones life. Minimalism was equated with wealth and with those that had enough money to choose to do without because they could always replace these items. Also, the tiny homes that are representative of the minimalist lifestyle have a level of respect, and yet the original tiny homes found in trailer parks do not.
Part of the problem is why a person chooses to embrace a certain lifestyle. Are we trying to be trendy, take in the newest fad, or are we more interested in simplifying and finding the balance in life that is best for us? Is our value expressed in the things we have purchased and displayed, or is our value in our ability to “display” the minimalist lifestyle?
Six years ago we moved from one state to another. We lived first in a camper and then an apartment before purchasing a home. While in the camper we didn’t need much, and of course we didn’t have room for excess. Living this way was simple and fun. We had the outdoors to escape to, walking through the campground or sitting on the picnic table outside. In the evenings we spread out, one in the living area and the other two on the ends in the sleeping areas. We had to be focused to make the space work, keeping very organized and giving each other mental and physical space.
Once we moved into an apartment we relished the joy of space. Soon, though, I began to feel dissatisfied. The walls were blank; we barely had any furniture, books or mementos. We were missing the clutter of life. The space felt like a hotel, not a home. I realized I needed some things in my space in order to feel grounded.
Once again we have moved from a house to an apartment and this time I am trying to learn from past choices. Hopefully we have brought enough items to make the apartment feel like a home, but not so much as to feel cluttered.
Perhaps the secret is in finding value in our life. The value isn’t in our possessions, nor is it in a lifestyle. The idea of minimalism is that with fewer possessions we are free to live in our experiences. We have time and money for trips, music, outdoors and people. I believe completely in this but at times physical things help us to retain the memories and feelings. Art, books, mementos, if we hold on to some of these items for the joy they bring, and not for a status symbol or a decorating style, then these objects are serving their purpose.
I am not a minimalist. I have a slightly cluttered, simple life. Our goal is that we only have what we need, and what we actually want, and nothing more. Thankfully we live in a time and place where we have this option. Life is good. Stuff is, well, just stuff.