When we were without Internet access, a friend of mine tagged me in a Facebook post, sharing this article. When I was finally able to take a look at it, I wasn’t sure how to respond.
First off, I thought, this is silly. I have no need to defend the choices I’ve made. Would I be happier if I just said “forget it,” moved into a house, and bought all the things we do without (you know, like an oven or private shower)? Of course not! Not at this point.
So that’s my choice. And there is no need to defend it at all. But my friend shared the article with me because she was curious about my choices, not because she wanted to start a debate. In that spirit, I had so many thoughts about the article (and no, I did not disagree with all of the points they made!), that I thought I would write a blog post in response. I thought I might address every point they brought up, and give my thoughts on it.
But first, I thought I would pick some of my friends’ brains and find out their thoughts on the article. What followed was a great discussion, neither a debate nor an echo chamber. And this ever-so-slightly snarky response from a long-time blogging friend of mine.
I thought of the discussion on and off throughout my day and realized how fortunate I am to have friends who challenge me, yet in such a gentle way. My friend who shared the article reminded me to think for myself rather than blindly following a doctrine. My friend who wrote the blog post reminded me to balance my time and notice the life happening around me.
Which led me to think about minimalism–as well as the other choices I have made. And thinking of that led me to change my approach in this response.
Minimalism does not need any further debate, defense or explanation. There is no need for me to re-hash what has already been written. Everyone makes great points, but they are all missing one concept.
And that it the concept of the path.
Life, and all that it entails–be it minimalism, materialism, sustainable living, spirituality/religious beliefs, thoughts and assumptions–is a journey. Whatever paths we choose are just that, paths. We need to be willing to follow the curves and bends in the path, and to choose when it forks.
For me, minimalism was a path that I traversed. Yes, there was a time when I was a little too obsessed with physical decluttering. There was a time when I purged possessions obsessively, to the point where my *stuff* got all the attention. There was a time when I looked down on those who chose to have more possessions. There was a time when I took things to a crazy level, so that I could say I belonged to this group.
Notice that I didn’t say that I’m ashamed to admit any of that.
Because, for me, it was all necessary. It was all a part of the process–it was my path. I began my journey into minimalism, because I wanted less stress. I wanted to stop worrying and living in fear. I wanted to feel like I was living correctly, like I was doing the right thing. And, so desperately, I wanted to belong to something.
Minimalism gave me none of those things, directly. But it was the path that led me to all of that and more.
Through my writing about minimalism, I became connected to a community who challenged me to question the way we were “supposed” to live, and led me to realize that my potential was more than I could have imagined. Through questioning the possessions we are “supposed” to have, I began questioning the entire script for life we were supposed to follow.
As I began to question the script, I began to question all the assumptions I had been holding, about life. I saw that the world open to me, and that I could create any life that I could imagine. But I also saw that peace and the end to fear, worry, and stress could come from nowhere except within myself. I could see that there is no “wrong” way to do life, and that it isn’t a test. Kindness doesn’t come from a philosophy on possessions; it comes from increasing understanding–of ourselves, and our place in the world and in life.
As far as belonging, I came to see that we are the only ones holding ourselves back from belonging to all humanity.
I no longer count my possessions. I live in a small space and do without a lot. I am still happier living with less.