My Desire to be a Minimalist
April 6, 2012 § 6 Comments
I’ve been on a minimalist kick for a while. I think moving to SLC helped a bit, as it was so liberating to donate items and have a tangible representation of the purging and what we wouldn’t have to move. However, no matter how hard I try, there are always those things that have sentimental value, or significance, or simply reside in the realm of “what ifs.” What if I want this shirt later? What if I have a need for this in two years? And then starts the constant battle between getting rid of it as a way to make life more simple (and risking having to purchase it again later if needed), or holding on to it “just in case.”
Last Christmas, we drove to Visalia with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. They flew out and accompanied us on the 12-hour roadtrip. One of the ways in which we entertained ourselves was by listening to TED talks. A TED talk that I really remember was one that was only five minutes by Graham Hill called “Less Stuff, More Happiness.”
I was truly inspired by this short talk, but then reverted back to my usual commodified ways thanks to the holidays. It is definitely a battle for me, as there are so many things I want, but at the same time, I look around and think, “Man, I’ve got so much stuff!” There is something appealing to me about the displays at Ikea that show an 500-square foot living space with everything one would need to live—a kitchen, dining area, living room, bedroom and closet. While the home we are living in now is bigger than the one we left in SoCal, our bedroom is smaller, as is the closet. And Steve can attest to the fact that one of my biggest frustrations is how the space we have now in our rooms doesn’t seem to be enough to hold all of our clothes. In fact, I often say to him, “The thing is, when this house was built this was enough room. We have just become such a consumer society that it no longer is enough room.” A couple friends of ours recently reflected on how they always manage to fill the space in which they live. When it was a one-bedroom apartment, they filled it. When they moved to a two-bedroom home, it started out empty and ended up full to capacity. And I think this is true for most of us.
While I’ve been searching for a more minimalist lifestyle for the last year or so, I’m sure the environmental communication class and theories of pop culture class I’m taking this semester are probably contributing to my discomfort with all the stuff I have. In these classes the concepts of consumerism and commodity fetishism are often part of the discussion. And, recently, I got another kick in the pants. One of my friends started a blog called “Twenty Pieces” in which she and her friend purged their wardrobes to only twenty pieces of clothing (excluding underwear, socks, shoes and workout clothes, see the rules here). It’s inspiring. And challenging. And uncomfortable. And that’s what always stops me.
But I can’t help but think, like my friend says on “Twenty Pieces,” that part of my identity, of myself, is wrapped up and hidden in my things, and that purging part of my life would also purge some weight from my shoulders I may not have realized I was carrying, or free me in ways I did not expect. With the changing of the seasons, “spring cleaning” often goes viral, and I’ve caught it again this year. In a month or so, when I’m done with the spring semester, I’ve got big plans to go through my stuff with a fine toothed comb. After all, if I haven’t needed it since we moved to SLC, why do I need to hold on to it? Wish me luck…