Now that I’ve offered some preliminary basics of how I think and how I attempt to be successful at life, I’d like to offer some clarity: I’ve given the description “because Minimalism is hard” and following that, I’ve shown some of the minimalist aesthetics in my life and some of the minimalist methodology in my life as suggested by Alan and Boyle, but I believe Minimalism has three perspectives, Aesthetic, Method, and Philosophy.
I was originally attracted to the idea of Minimalism by its aesthetic in clothing design and then my interest in minimalist interior and artistic design followed, however, my minimalist roots begin in its methodology. My mother is incredibly organized and structured in her home and budget and I grew up with those ideas and an entirely different way of applying them. I cannot maintain what I organize very well, so to solve this, I began routinely “purging” my room and closet of things I no longer felt attached to or needed. I did this entirely of my own volition and it drove my mother mad as it meant that I didn’t save the birthday cards she wrote, or the toys, or the little souvenirs or gifts I had acquired, but by the end of my purging, I still hadn’t made my bed which might have been all she had asked me to do eight hours prior.
I identified clutter as a source of discourse and barriers in my life, but I had virtually no rhyme or reason for this concept; it just worked for me, “some people are good at maintaining and some are just good at fixing”. I know I’m a fixer.
I didn’t think of Minimalism as a philosophy until naturally some time after my required Philosophy and Ethics course in undergrad. I had begun to ask “why” in my overarching world view, such as my political decisions in which I transitioned from Conservative Republican to Libertarian primarily because ethically I believed that right of the one is stronger than the might of the many. I became a Methodist when I had been raised in a Post-Campbell, Non-Denominational Sect my entire life. However, just as I was not so good at maintaining, I also struggled to find congruence in my day to day life compared with my beliefs. One of my bridesmaids studies Environmentalism. I care about recycling and accept that global warming is in fact occurring, but I didn’t see much risk in it until she explained that philosophically, we should prioritize human life over nature, but in doing so, we’ve ended up harming the planet so harshly that it is a harm to future human life. She gave philosophy as a reason for why and suddenly Environmentalism mattered to me in my every day life. I play games searching for places to recycle a bottle because it is worth the hassle. I now buy bar shampoo and conditioner and I actually hate my conditioner right now, but the feeling is worth it, that I’ve done some benevolence that gives me a sense of congruence.
It was shortly after this revelation that I picked up Boyle’s book and realized that there might be a reason that I was attracted to Minimalism just as there was a reason for my political and religious views, and that those reasons matter enough that they should be a part of my every day life, not just apart of fixing my life.
As someone who is religious, it was important to me that I had scripturally fueled reasoning for my newfound obsession, but I could not just hunt it out and risk making excuses for myself. I was blessed and the answer hit me in the form of a sermon where the rich young ruler is discussed. The rich young ruler comes to Jesus and asks what must be done to enter the kingdom of heaven. He proves that he has followed the law almost perfectly and that he is a good man, but Jesus then tells him “sell all your possessions, give to the poor, and follow me” and the young man leaves devastated. I was always confused by that story as I know that Jesus was not truly asking that anyone must sell everything, but I was offered some clarity: Jesus asked this man to simplify so that he is free to do God’s will.
We Americans do not realize that we are in fact the richest people in the world if we are making more than 30k a year because wealth is relative. So is clutter. I need to reduce anything that holds me back from doing good in the lives of others. Obsessing over what to wear distracts me from simply appreciating beauty of my body in or out of clothing. Having more stuff means having more stuff to clean until cleaning is no longer caring for my possessions but a chore. Buying everything that strikes my fancy means not having money for the homeless man I met on the way home, or for that trip that grows my fiancé and me.
To me, Minimalism as a philosophy is the idea that we all have the same space; the less stuff that occupies that space is more freedom for us to move in that space, or perhaps enter someone else’s space. We have an ethical responsibility to be free enough of our own burdens to aid others with theirs