When I first started down the path of minimalism, it was born from being overwhelmed by the chaos that surrounded me.
The chaos of toys, clothes, books, and stuff. Stuff everywhere.
Old things. New things. Red things. Blue things.
There was too much.
It crowded my space and it cluttered my mind.
And so I began the journey to simplicity. Sorting. Purging. Crying. Donating.
It was a long process that was both cathartic, liberating and stressful at times.
The less I had the less I realized I actually needed.
We’re over a year into our journey and I still feel overwhelmed at moments by the sheer volume of things a family of four (plus dog) can manage to accumulate.
Part of what motivated me to reduce was the desire for a simpler life. Who doesn’t want a life of simplicity? Less stuff meant less stress, right? Sort of. The time spent sorting, organizing and cleaning has been reduced, most certainly. Less clothing has meant less laundry, something all parents of young children can appreciate.
What I’ve come to discover though is that behind the culture of minimalism lies a myth. One that says if we eliminate the things that are occupying our time and energy, we will discover a world of freedom in which all things are possible. I myself wrote about the possibility of blank spaces.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in a vacuum (thank-goodness, wouldn’t that be dusty?) and life is still messy. No matter how many crayons I get rid of I still manage to find pieces of pink wax under the furniture. No matter how few clothes we have, sometimes I find myself perplexed by choosing something to wear. Regardless of the uncluttered state of our cupboards and floors, I get overwhelmed by life and the stress of it.
The truth is that even with less physical stuff around us life can become more complex. How can that be if the stuff is what was causing us stress in the first place? Because the stuff was never the problem. It was a symptom of something deeper. A human condition that no amount of minimizing can cure.
Our kids will still annoy us.
Our spouse may still aggravate us.
Our tempers will flare.
Our hearts can get hard.
I used to think that if I could only get rid of a certain number of boxes of stuff, I would find the peace I was looking for. I certainly didn’t believe that minimalism was the answer to all of life’s problems, but I thought that it would cure me of the stress that my stuff had caused. It helped, temporarily. I still firmly believe in the power of less. Anthony Ongaro wrote recently that “as we learn to disconnect our sense of self from the things we own, it empowers us to consume less and live more”.
Being wrapped up in consumerism is a trap that too many of us have fallen into, and minimalism can be a key to remove us from it. Once we’re out though, minimalism doesn’t hold any more answers.
It doesn’t tell us where to look for our purpose.
It doesn’t tell us what to replace in the void that shopping, organizing and consuming once held.
It won’t direct our steps or give us hope for the future.
Minimalism is only the first step towards a life of more. More time, focus, energy, purpose, drive and love. What will drive us and where we will go is up to us.
There is no right answer or one path in life. Some of us will use our new freedom to invest more into our families and neighbourhoods. Others will take their expanded energy and bank accounts and cross an ocean to help those on the other side. None of us can do it alone, but as a community we can have a greater impact on the world. What does having less of give you more of? And who will you give it to?
Just as minimalism inspires us to live more simply, it can inspire us to give more fully. Welcome to the community.
We’re glad you’re here and can’t wait to see where it takes you.