I’ve been thinking about my identification as a minimalist lately. Words, descriptors in particular, are funny things. Part of the beauty of writing is rolling all sorts of words around and finding new ways to say things. But I’m also very aware that there are so many things that words just can’t capture or communicate. Language isn’t universal, and this is proven over and over again in all the woes of our world.
Once I identify as something, I become a little wary after a while. Sometimes we can get tired of being labeled: writer, millennial, tiny dweller, minimalist… They’re all just guide posts – but they can never truly surmise the soul.
And yet, with all that said, there are 3 tenants of minimalism that we absolutely love:
1. The practice of mindful/conscious consumption. I was the girl that would impulse buy when a store was having a great “sale” or “deal.” Or even more compulsively, because I could and it looked cute at the time. Buyers remorse was very real – and became even more so once we moved into the Airstream. We used to donate SO MUCH STUFF in moments of total overwhelm. But now, what used to be a decision of seconds is now a decision of days – sometimes even months. And as I look around me now, I can honestly say every thing has a purpose and a place which is part of the reason the space we have created within the Airstream is one of the happiest spaces we’ve dwelled in – and certainly the happiest space we’ve ever owned.
2. Experiences>things. Whenever I get in spend-y moods, I have learned the best method for me is to step back and go outside. Some days, all it takes is for the sun to warm my face. A walk to ease stiff joints. Cuddling my cat. Having catch up chats with friends. The most beautiful and cherished things in my life are moments. Everything else is supplemental, but not necessary. Even though I’d never have admitted it before, we all get urges to keep up with the Jones’. But once you’ve had the blissful moments of just soaking up life, you can justify not having all the “things” you think you should have. For us, that was a suburban home with a mortgage, a car payment, the list goes on. We have none of those things, and now we feel like the lucky ones.
3. Quality over quantity. A common misconception of minimalism is that you must get rid of everything but what is required to live. Perhaps that is the case for some, but I think that takes things to the extreme, especially for myself. I believe books hold infinite value, and so I have hundreds. True, I could own a kindle – trust me, Mason has tried. But, for me reading is an experience. I like to
touch them, smell them, and admire the physical art of them. I support the writers and artists I love as much as I can. This sometimes means I bring items into my home that technically have no purpose other than, as Marie Kondo would say, “bring joy.” However, I’m still incredibly conscious of what I purchase, but that doesn’t mean I live in a bare room. Sometimes, I even take it a step further with certain things that are superfluous but hold sentimental value. I thought for the longest time that I couldn’t keep sentimental things. That I shouldn’t attach value to inanimate objects (which I’ve talked about before here). This last year, I spent hours in tears looking for letters and cards that I had been given from someone that had passed away. I never found them, and it broke my heart. They contained words of encouragement and kindness which I would’ve liked to have kept. I’ve now learned it’s okay to keep letters that hold sweet notes that I know will continue to bring a smile to my face long after they’ve been given. I’m going to keep my wedding dress forever. My books will stay stored with my parents until they have to be moved or we find a home with space for a bookcase. For me, things do hold value. It’s the quality over the quantity that really counts – the mindful action of what to keep and what to let go. And I’d venture to say most minimalists would agree. Though it will always vary what exactly that means from one person to another.
So, what do you think of minimalism? How we live is such a personal thing, and I’m always curious to see what other people think of different lifestyles and how we all approach them a little differently. I’d love to hear from you in the comments!