I have to tell you right up front that I’m working from my version of minimalism.
I have found or at least adopted that minimalism is more of a mindset or attitude than an established set of rules. It seems to me that the people who say they are minimalists are really making it up as they go along. To quote “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “The code is more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules.” There are people who have created rules and say things like, “if you live with more than 100 items you are NOT a minimalist.” But I just don’t think you can put such strict parameters on it. Each person’s take will be different.
If you don’t know much about minimalism, there are a couple of guys who do a good job explaining it and giving direction. You’ll find them at http://www.theminimalists.com.
There are also a lot of other people on the internet giving their versions and their suggestions. You’ll find extremists as you do in anything.
There are also people out there bashing it and some are pointing out the inconsistencies and hypocrisies of it and I’m glad they do. It’s good to look at something from all sides.
In my opinion, when it all comes down to it, we have to adopt a lifestyle that is an expression of our beliefs and values. And to be honest, doesn’t that take a long time? I mean, for me, it’s taken me a long time to really be able to verbalize what I believe or what I truly value. Then it’s taken a super long time for those beliefs and values to come out in my life, my actions, my words. To do it, I have found I have to struggle with my self-image and self-esteem because to live what I truly value I have to go against the tide of popular culture and thought. To be more accurate, instead of saying it takes a long time I should probably say it’s a constant adaptation. It’s a work in progress to live what we believe because the world and we are constantly changing.
Think about it we go from infants, to children, to adolescents, to young adults, to middle age, to mature adult, to seniors. We never stay at one stage. And in those stages we learn and we have experiences. Within those stages there are certain demands and requirements. Think about it, the kinds of things we need as a child, we don’t need as a young adult. Our clothing, housing, food, well, everything is different at different stages. In my opinion, if we don’t change and adapt it gets difficult and weird.
Old women dressing as teenagers. Weird. You know what I mean.
I was thinking about all the people that I know who are at that stage in life where the house they own, that they had for their young family, is just too big and too much work for them now. If they don’t change and adapt to the new stage of life, they will be living in a house that requires too much work that they aren’t able to do and it will fall in disrepair. It also may be dangerous for them to live it. If they are able to make the necessary changes, they will probably find their lives more enjoyable, more free.
We see it in nature: birds molt, snakes shed their skins, leaves lose their leaves, shorelines change with storms and tides. You get my drift, right?
But I will tell you why people don’t change. They’re afraid. It’s uncomfortable. They don’t want to let go of the “good old days” because the future is unknown and seems scary. What they think they will lose screams louder than what they think they will gain. I know. I’m feeling it.
Why minimalism now?
This stage of my life, after the empty nest and into grandparenthood is the perfect time for me to finally live out certain values I hold. The demands, responsibilities and requirements of a young mother are no longer on me. And can better articulate my beliefs now than I could before. I can see more clearly how a person can live what they believe now than I could when I was overwhelmed with the day to day stress of raising my kids.
My version of minimalism
Minimalism began in art and design and has more recently crept into the mind and vocabulary of popular culture.
The Minimalists define it as: a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.
As a Christian, I first balked at that statement. However if you read it more closely it doesn’t say that minimalism will bring you happiness, fulfillment and freedom. It says that it frees you up to focus on what’s important and so you can go find it. I can get on board with that.
Leo Babauta on mnmlist.com says, “It’s simply getting rid of things you do not use or need, leaving an uncluttered, simple environment and an uncluttered, simple life. It’s living without an obsession with material things or an obsession with doing everything and doing too much. It’s using simple tools, having a simple wardrobe, carrying little and living lightly.”
The words “simple” and “uncluttered” really appeal to me. And being free, not controlled by material possessions is like a Christian teaching, right?
And one of the themes that I see running through minimalism is the idea of being deliberate, being thoughtful. I like the idea of not wasting, of thinking about others, and being a giver not a taker.
I could go on but this post is already NOT minimalist, so I’ll get to my ideas about minimalism. Here are my goals:
- Less me, more others.
- Less accumulation, more giving.
- Less attention to stuff more attention to people.
- Less judgment, more love.
- Less distraction, more focus.
- Less worrying, more joy!
- Less indulgence, more moderation.
- Less waste, more deliberate.
Now, I may add to this list as I live this out. But these are the basic thoughts I had. Most of them can be seen in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
In this blog I plan to talk about how I try to, at this stage in my life, turn these ideas into actions, into a lifestyle.