“For I have learned the secret of being content…”
Minimalism is so hot right now and I can understand why. Life gets tangled and messy and we crave order; I look around my basement suite and the junk just seems to ooze out of every corner, and seriously, where does it all come from? It makes me uncomfortable. I think to myself, “I can’t relax with all this visual clutter!”
In comes minimalism. It’s a great concept. Less stuff, more space, less clutter, more order, less time spent cleaning, more time spent enjoying life- that’s the general idea. I like the concept a lot and while I have been inspired to declutter many times (and perhaps rightly so) I can’t fully commit to the philosophy for the following reasons:
Reason number one? Life in black and white (and the occasional wood grain) doesn’t really appeal to me. I like colours. Lots of colours and lots of pretty pictures to look at.
And speaking of black and white, there’s this website– the second reason I can’t commit to minimalism. These guys and their matching outfits and cardboard box testimony weird me out and, frankly, I feel like they’re over-promising. It’s kind of like when my husband told me “You’re almost there!” when I was in labour with our first-born and I screamed at him “YOU DON’T KNOW THAT!!!!!”. Even though his intentions were very good, I was quite certain he couldn’t deliver on that promise, just like I don’t think The Minimalists can prove their assertion that minimalism will help me find lasting happiness and discover purpose in my life.
I don’t see how minimalism can bring me happiness, mainly because I am already quite happy wasting time on meaningless pursuits such as arranging all my belongings just so and being distracted by the trappings of life. I feel that minimalism is at war with my personal pursuit of coziness.
Minimalism just isn’t cozy. You know what is cozy? Sitting on the couch with one of the many books that I own and not working towards my goals. Or drinking a cup of coffee with a good friend and engaging in the smallest of small talk. You know what else is cozy? Stuff. Multiple throw pillows, stacks of notebooks, and a different mug for every day of the week. Coziness is piling every single blanket, pillow, and stuffy in the house onto the couch, stripping down to your pull-up and diving in. Just ask my four year old. He knows.
And speaking of stuff, this brings me to my last concern with minimalism. For all its crisp and pure facade, in its radical form Minimalism still boils down to an obsession with stuff- only in reverse. Instead of “ALL THE STUFF!” it’s “ONLY THE RIGHT STUFF!!” or in its most extreme view: “NO STUFF!!” While I would like to think that getting rid of all my things would mean that my house was always clean and I would never be stressed or lose my temper with my kids again, I have a feeling it wouldn’t really fix anything. At least, not everything. You know what they say, where there are no oxen the stall is clean. I don’t think the straw is the problem. I think I’m the problem. I’ve made pristine hotel rooms look like a hoarder’s palace with just one small suitcase of worldly possessions.
And for times like that, when I’m faced with the crippling chaos of things, I’ve come up with my own mantra with which to comfort myself:
Stuff is just stuff.
And if its true that owning lots of stuff won’t make me happy, then it should follow that owning lots of stuff can also not make me unhappy. Because its just stuff.
I’m not the queen of logical conclusions, but I’m pretty sure I just solved the Labrynth, confronted the Goblin King, and realized that there is no spoon. Or something like that.
My TED talk is coming soon. Meanwhile, I’m going to go fill a box for the thrift store, and maybe I’ll do some shopping while I’m there ;p
*I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through CHRIST WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH.”