I’ve been flirting, dancing around with the idea of becoming a Minimalist for a while, a while too long. The last couple of weeks have been spent busying myself with packing everything I own under my name – my clothes, my shoes, my books, my letters, my laptop, my camera, my sports equipment (yoga mat, resistance band, etc.), my kitchen appliances, my stationery, my bags… It’s going to be a move to a simple, cosy, beautiful, rustic apartment — an apartment I’ve entirely furnished together with my parents, an apartment – the first! – that I have my personal touch on and I must say that that has left me with a sense of pride over the entire abode.
I swore to only own what I need and not any excess, in other words, to live with necessity and not excessiveness. I chose to be harshly truthful with myself, to make it clear to myself that the many things which I chose to keep out of the sake of the memory/ sentimental value it holds have left me feeling more burdened and troubled than anything else. The train tickets, museum brochures, bamboo straws from my stay at The Chillhouse in Bali, sets of uniform from primary school, … I didn’t need those. I am, admittedly, a terrible hoarder — my family (especially my sister) can vouch for this. Thoughts along the line of “But the memories they bring!”, “How nice it would be to be able to show these to my children, if any, in the future!”, “It’d be so wonderful to be able to look back every now and then!” would plague my mind. It’s true, I fear change and I fear loss.
This transition to minimalism may very well be among the top few most painful things I’ve ever made myself go through.
The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t. ― Joshua Becker
But You know, Joshua Becker has a point, a very good one at that. Perhaps I may have a very whacky idea of what it is that I actually need in life. Perhaps they’re merely “wants” and simply there for the luxury of being revelled at once in a blue moon.
Minimalism will be a reassessment of my priorities so that I can strip away the excess stuff that don’t bring value to my life. It is going to be a tool for me to rid myself of life’s excess in favour of focusing on what’s important — so I can find happiness, fulfillment, and most importantly, freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture I’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.
In essence, I will be clearing away all but the most essential things — to make room for that which, I know for sure, will give me the most joy — health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution. I’ll clear away the distractions so I can create something incredible. I’ll clear away the noise so I can concentrate on inner peace. I know that increased peace, joy and contentment will result, because I’ve made room for these things – both physically and mentally.
Eyes blinded by the fog of things cannot see truth.
Ears deafened by the din of things cannot hear truth.
Brains bewildered by the whirl of things cannot think truth.
Hearts deadened by the weight of things cannot feel truth.
Throats choked by the dust of things cannot speak truth.
― Harold Bell Wright, The Uncrowned King
Minimalism will be a way for me to escape the excesses of the world around me — the excesses of consumerism, material possessions, clutter, having too much to do, too many distractions… too much noise. But too little meaning. Minimalism will be a way of eschewing the non-essential in order to focus on what’s truly important, what gives my life meaning, what gives my existence value. Minimalism will allow me to make these decisions more consciously, more deliberately. Minimalism would also help me achieve a less stressful, more calming home. Clutter is a form of visual distraction as everything in our vision subtly pulls at our attention. The less clutter, the less visual stress I’d experience.
That doesn’t mean there’s anything inherently wrong with owning material possessions though. The problem seems to be that I tend to give too much meaning to the things I own, often forsaking my passions, my personal growth, and my desire to contribute beyond myself.
It is important to note that we don’t think that sentimental items are bad or evil or that holding on to them is wrong. We don’t. Rather, we think the pernicious nature of sentimental items – and overt sentimentality in general – is far more subtle. If you want to get rid of an item but the only reason you are holding on to it is for sentimental reasons – if it is weighing on you, if it’s an anchor – then perhaps it’s time to get rid of it, perhaps it is time to free yourself of the weight. ― Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus
I’ve been reading up a lot about Minimalism, too. I gathered that there are many flavours of Minimalism. For instance, a 20-year-old single guy’s minimalist lifestyle looks different from a 45-year-old mother’s minimalist lifestyle. Even though everyone embraces Minimalism differently, each path leads to the same place: a life with more time, more money, and more freedom to live a more meaningful life.
This is something I promise to abide by: To not get rid of stuff just because I can because if I do this, the most likely result is that I’ll be sad and lonely without your things and will just end up buying new versions of them, which supports conspicuous consumption, will cost me a bunch of money, further strain Mother Nature and generally wreaks havoc on the world. I’d rather not put myself in the position to yo-yo when it comes to these things.
I will slowly test out the waters and see what I can and cannot live without.
As a Minimalist, I will search for happiness not through things, but through life itself.
Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It’s your masterpiece after all. ― Nathan W. Morris
I will be ruthless, I will ask myself, “Will (a certain object) make me happy/ bring me joy?”, I will be honest and I will be quick for I might change my mind.
This may be painful, this might be heavy and I could very well be left with regrets but I know I will have to continue because the temporariness of these emotions will be nothing compared to the new lease on life I’d achieve. I know will thank myself for this.
But I know I will get stronger and that I will learn how to carry the spirit of the people and things around me in my heart and not in my hands.
Now, I just look at them, and when I go away I carry them in my head. Then my hands are always free, because I don’t have to carry a suitcase. ― Tove Jansson
We don’t get ‘bonus points’ when we die for owning more stuff than the other guy, nor do we get a trophy for owning less than someone else. We do, however, get to smile on our deathbeds if we enjoyed the heck out of life, so that’s what I plan on focusing on.
What about You?
You sell off the kingdom piece by piece and trade it for a horse that will take you anywhere. ― Colin Wright, My Exile Lifestyle