On Minimalism

I do not consider myself a minimalist. In fact, I kind of hate the word. There is something about it that feels austere to me. I picture a bright white room with three things in it - a chair, a light fixture and a single painting leaning against the wall. It feels clean but cold. While I don't aspire to live in a bare, empty space, I do believe in reducing my possessions until I only own what I need and/or love. I want to feel calm and happy in my home (and garage too, heaven help me), and I find that clutter engenders despair and heart palpitations. So maybe I am a closet minimalist?

Minimalism is a real buzzword these days, and it means different things to different people. Here are links to definitions of the term from people who have spent a lot of time thinking and writing about the concept: From The Minimalists, and from Becoming Minimalist. These guys have all made careers out of practicing minimalism, and I like what they've got to say about it. In a nutshell, you get to decide what it means for you; the basic idea is that you consciously divest yourself of any extra stuff that doesn't add value to your life.

The terms we use to describe our goals vary widely, even when we're talking about the same thing. Don't worry too much about whether you are conforming to someone's idea of the "right" way to live. Think instead about what you'd like to come home to every day. For me that's a home that doesn't have piles of paper in the kitchen or stacks of clothes in the living room or tons of detritus on the dining room table. It's clear surfaces and the knowledge that I can find the things I need because everything has a place and actually lives in that place.

Think about what you'd like to see when you get up in the morning or come home after work. What is your ideal home? Minimalist or maximalist, spend some time really picturing the details, get clear on what you want, then call me. I'll help you get there.