Recently, while browsing through the many interesting and helpful-hint-laden pages of lifehacker.com, I stumbled upon a lovely little blog written by a lovely little woman who calls herself Miss Minimalist. While minimalism may typically be ascribed to music, design, or other art forms, Miss Minimalist employs the concept in the way she lives her life; she has happily found for herself a minimalist approach to the art of living, you could say.
I don’t remember why Lifehacker was referencing her blog – probably something about utilizing storage space or cutting down on clutter, common features on the website – but I am fascinated by her thoughts on what minimalism can do to transform not just how you live, but how you think about life.
While most of her writing involves practical tips (how to cut down your over-stuffed closet, how to store things efficiently and attractively, etc.), her core ideas wax somewhat philosophically as she explains why she believes in minimalism and what more it has to offer than simply keeping your home tidy.
To me, being a minimalist isn’t only about white walls and empty spaces. It’s about eliminating the distractions that keep us from fully appreciating life.
The less stuff we have cluttering our homes (and the less “to-do’s” cluttering our time), the more energy we can devote to the things that are truly important to us.
My goal is to find that elusive point of “just enough,” whereby I own nothing more than that which meets my needs.
I believe that minimalism isn’t about emptiness for the sake of emptiness — but rather making room to move freely, think clearly, and open ourselves to the beauty and wonder of life.
Through her blogs, Miss Minimalist is slowly convincing me that minimalism could not only provide me with the freedom from on-going to-do lists in the back of my mind, but also that the de-cluttered, stress-free result can lead to greater freedoms.
For instance, I just read a post in which Miss M described how once, when she and her husband were on vacation, their home was burglarized. But, because they simply didn’t own many “big-ticket” items such as a television, fancy stereo equipment, or expensive computers, or excessive jewelry, the thief took nothing but a portable CD player, an empty purse, a tube of lipstick, and a ziploc bag of Canadian coins. So, even though burglary is always a possibility, she and her husband can travel free of the worry that their most “valuable” items will be gone when they get home. What peace of mind!
It was their minimalist lifestyle that allowed Miss and Mr. M to move from the US to the UK in just one month with nothing but a duffle bag each. That’s hard to imagine, but incredible to know it’s possible.
I’m most attracted to Miss M’s recurring theme of something she calls “non-attachment”; as you can infer, it basically means not owning anything that you are too attached to. In other words, don’t buy or own anything that you couldn’t easily leave behind or get over if it was lost or damaged (aside from essentials like wedding bands, financial documents, and the exception of certain sentimental items – just don’t turn everything into a sentimental item). It’s very easy for me to assign emotional value to physical things; it comes naturally. I save postcards, trinkets from childhood, and memorabilia from my relationship with Jordan. Such items are tangible links to people and events that I cherish.
In some sense, complete non-attachment seems impossible. But I think that Miss M’s point is that if we allow ourselves to become attached to too many things, we quickly become weighed down by the burden of every item that has ever had even slight significance in our lives. She gives this example: when she and her husband moved to the UK, they considered buying a pair of beautiful Barcelona chairs for their new living room. They both loved the chairs, but they knew that if they ever moved again it would be too impractical and expensive to ship them, and because they loved them so much they couldn’t bear leaving them behind. So, they opted instead for some less amazing but still lovely chairs that they could manage replacing if the time should come.
I’m beginning to realize that for being a post about minimalism, this is getting a little lengthy. Needless to say, I’m enthralled by Miss Minimalist and her outlook on life, and while I may never be able to become the “bare essentials” minimalist that she is (owning four pairs of shoes, sleeping on a mattress on the floor, eating off of a coffee table), I have been inspired to take action in my own life to trim things down and sort things out. Miss M has some helpful posts about wardrobe minimalism that have given me some great ideas. She also has a book that I’m seriously considering purchasing.
For now, though, I’ll stick to organizing my closet.