Developing My Sense of Minimalism: Part 1

Treasures I relinquished at last weekend's Uptown Pop-up Flea

I thought for sure that as soon as the yard sale was finished and I washed the dirt from my hands that I'd be a minimalist. I even created a placeholder draft blog in my queue titled: The Answer to the Consumption Trap. Spoiler alert, I don't have the answer. 

I spent weeks purging my life. I reduced my library down to a handful of books - maybe 30 or so, from over 300. I cut my wardrobe down to a third of what it once was - underwear and shoes/accessories included! I threw out beauty products I hadn't touched in months, sorted papers and threw out receipts from 2014. I tried all my pens and markers, throwing out the ones that didn't work. I cleared my pantry of unnecessary packaging, old herbs and teas, and consolidated a lot to glass jars or to the give-away pile. 

I even co-hosted a co-op yard sale in my yard so friends, also purging their lives, could hop on the minimalism train with me. 

Please enjoy the hilarious disproportion of Craig Bothwell while viewing this huge panorama

Please enjoy the hilarious disproportion of Craig Bothwell while viewing this huge panorama

With immense help and support, I cleaned up the yard, tidied up the house, and sat back in satisfaction (exhaustion) and thought to myself: this is what minimalism is supposed to feel like, right? 

My childhood bedroom, circa 2007

My childhood bedroom, circa 2007

Minimalism became attractive to me when realized that most of my life was dominated by the fervent collection of THINGS. 

I loved to collect. Everything had meaning to me. I also loved supplies. Materials meant I could create more things. I hoarded physical items, clothing, papers, rocks, bags (still a problem), and eventually, when the computer became a permanent fixture of my life, bookmarks. Enter: Pinterest. Web-hoarding, it's a real problem.

Minimalism seemed like the sexy, easy-to-apply fix to all of that. Get rid of all my stuff, my house will always be tidy and my brain will be clear and I will be happy and cool. 

Keywords: happy & cool

It's day's later and I'm wandering around my house, feeling like I should "purge" more things. I sit down, scroll Instagram for a few minutes, admiring my perfectly curated feed of creative mountain-dwelling makers, herbalists and alternative healers, world travelers, poets, ink & watercolor illustrators, book publishers, tiny houses, brand-influencers, and closest friends whom I don't see often. All of these people with neat workspaces and beautifully lit homes and idyllic lifestyles that aren't cluttered with things or "baggage". It's a snapshot of the life I want - quite distant from the life I have. 

"I'm working toward that life, I'll get there."

It's occurring to me, and there's no flowery way to put this: 

I am addicted to consuming.

Where I used to have retail therapy at H&M and buying an un-readable amount of books on Amazon, I now consume posts on Instagram, blog and articles, high-quality handmade goods, recipes, supplements, hobbies, self-help theories, and even have the audacity to create a 2017 Shopping List as if only buying these things is going to solve all my problems. 

The truth is, I am trying to fill a void with the consumption of things outside myself out of some dissatisfaction or fear of things that come from myself. 

I am trying to consume minimalism to make me feel neat and tidy. I'm trying to get rid of crappy things so I can consume better things (even if it's less things, it's still consumption). I'm consuming snippets of stranger's lives while giving reasons and justifications for why I'm not creating my own life that way.

Something I learned from The Minimalists is that minimalism is different for everyone. It isn't always all white walls, mid-century modern chairs, and capsule wardrobes. It's about recognizing the meaning in the things, people, and experiences we choose for our lives. 

I realize that the meaning behind some of the choices I make is just to look good, not to create the life I genuinely want. I realize that my meaning behind choosing minimalism was because I thought if I cleared the clutter in my life, it would clear the clutter in my brain. 

Consider this the first part of a multi-installment journey to establish a sense of moderation, create a habit of mindfulness, and to discover the meaning of living minimally.