I’ve been thinking a lot about minimalism lately and what it means to me. I’m always fascinated to hear how other people became minimalists, and after a recent string of interesting conversations, I’ve come to a deeper understanding of my own inclinations and I thought I’d share it with you.
For me, minimalism has mostly been a tool that I’ve used to escape the excess stress in my daily life. I can’t say that I’ve been very moderate in my approach. But it’s more than just that. It evolved, at one point, into something closer to a purification ritual- the getting rid of and stripping bare.
It didn’t started that way, though.
A little over a year ago, when I was still pregnant with Thunder Thighs, I wasn’t feeling particularly overwhelmed by my possessions. I’ve always been interested in interior design and to some extent architecture, so my surroundings were important, but any dissatisfaction I felt had more to do with not feeling like I had enough art, furniture, etc in my home. However, I was aware that due to all the kid clutter, as well as my own, I spent two-thirds of my day cleaning up messes. At least. So even before all of this minimalism business, I had faint ideas beginning to form around how I spent my time. It was depressing, of course, to realize that most of my daily life centered around the picking up and moving of objects.
Could that be any more meaningless? I tried not to think about it for a while, but increasingly I felt my life lacked purpose. There were days when I struggled to stay in the present moment with my children. I had too much to do and not enough hours in the day to do it. But none of the things I had to do were significant in any way.
Then, I stumbled upon Leo Babauta‘s blog. I’ll never forget that moment. His words were like a beacon of truth ringing out loudly over the dull drone of my life. Everything about the idea of minimalism appealed to me. I’m an extremist by nature. Living with few possessions is an extreme challenge for most people, and I wanted to know if I could do it. It didn’t take long for me to discover that I could do it, but what I didn’t anticipate was the high I felt everytime I got rid of something. I felt almost like an addict, constantly scanning the house for objects to donate.
The more stressful my daily life became with three children, the more I felt I needed to clear space in my mind and in my house. And in fact, the more physical space I cleared, the easier it became for me to manage the daily stresses. It just makes sense that if I only have 4 plates, 4 bowls, and 4 cups, I will never have a sink filled with dirty dishes. If I don’t have knick-knacks covering every surface, then the kids won’t constantly be playing with, breaking, and generally disrupting the decor. The obvious sense that it all made was irresistible.
Furthermore, I’ve come to feel that it’s the right way for me to live, given my understanding of how most of the rest of the world lives. My minimalism is an outward recognition that most people on this planet don’t have much, and I’m not going to have a ton of stuff just because I can. I’d rather use extra money for charity and life experiences with other human beings.
So, that is how I came to minimalism.
I love the austerity of it. The cleanliness of it all. The idea that I have stripped away needless layers of my Self, and am left only with the bare necessities and some loved treasures. For me, this kind of simplicity is exquisitely beautiful.
That being said, I have had moments when I’ve felt genuinely fearful. It’s such an odd thing how not owning things could produce anxiety and fear, especially not owning things I don’t actually need. I’ve felt confronted by an unknown future; one that won’t center around performing meaningless tasks and buying things constantly.
What will that life look like?
To be honest, I still don’t know. And yes, that can be terrifying. But I’ll save that for another day.
How did you become a minimalist? I would love to hear your story.