The idea of minimalism has always been one that intrigued me. However, I’ve never was able to embrace it. Being so young, my mindset has been geared towards the question “what can I acquire?”, not “what I could do without?”. With every new possession I’ve gained, whether earned or given, a feeling of stress has constantly grown. That, in my mind, is not right.
Over the summer of 2012 I posted a small response to a NYTimes article regarding minimalism, which I’ve posted below.
“There have been a few periods in my life where I had a strong vision of myself going minimalist. They were mainly motivated by esthetic concern, though, it was always a fun mind set to embody. Simply living with what one needs is not an act of giving away till you’re left with nearly nothing. It’s a mental filtration process which forces an individual to adapt themselves to living comfortably with less options. This doesn’t mean living with out quality or sophistication. If you love photography and constantly take pictures, there is no need to give away your camera! The best example of what we rarely let go is clothes and toys. Boxes upon boxes in attics and garages are filled with the past times which we will only again revisit in thought. At first it feels odd to let something go that once had meaning to you. But all it takes is practice, and after awhile we realize all those boxes are just memories.
In recents months I’ve read two books on minimalism, and have gain new insights into the philosophy. The one that has resonated with me most, though, is how “less is liberating”. As contradicting as it sounds, the less possessions we have, the more of everything else we have. Time, money saved and freedom are just a few of examples. By resisting the cult of consumerism, we retain more of our money to use towards experience over purchase.
A funny example I found in my own life comes from a Burberry T-Shirt I bought last christmas. After trying it on in the store, it fit perfectly and I thought I couldn’t do with out it. $85 flew immediately out of my pocket and the T-shirt was mine. The next night I wore it out to a dance club and the day after that the shirt was ready for a wash. After grabbing the tag, I then read this:
HAND WAS ONLY
DO NOT BLEACH
DO NOT TUMBLE DRY
DO NOT DRY CLEAN
EXCLUSIVE OF DECORATIONS
WASH INSIDE OUT
Stalin didn’t have this many rules. For at least an hour I then proceeded to wash this shirt, stress over whether I’m ruining it or not, as well as attempt to find a drying rack. Now, three months later, I’ve only worn the shirt at most on three occasions, simply because it is a hassle to own.
This example may be extreme, and could be solved by what some of my friends have suggested to me, “buy a normal fucking shirt”; however, think of all the things in our lives that we own and suffer stress from. To many random kitchen appliances that always pile up and need to wash? So many clothes that the hamper is ballooning and you dread the next laundry date? I see this everywhere, and we all suffer.
I have decided to finally take a forward step towards minimalism and see if it is right for me. Additionally, in the style by which I execute most of my goals, I will be using the “Cold Turkey” method. Over the next few weeks, I’m first attacking my wardrobe and will be attempting to narrow it to 30 versatile pieces that work with one another (I now have well over 100). All the clothes that don’t fit in my new wardrobe will be either a) sold at the buffalo exchange b) sold on Ebay c) given to good will, and d) thrown out if necessary.
Here we go.