A poor person isn’t he who has little, but he who needs a lot.
I call myself a minimalist. It is a term, I realize, that can mean many different things. A hasty internet search suggests that it is a style preference – something about clean lines and well-placed objects. While I can’t claim to be an expert on the subject, I’ve learned a lot about what minimalism means to me and over the years I’ve come to see it’s value in my life, even if the vast majority of my own lines happen to be decidedly messy.
I suspect that at least some of my minimalist tendencies are a familial legacy. Growing up without a lot of resources, I was able to escape some of the rampant consumerism that has dictated so much of American life in the past few decades. I had little choice but to appreciate my Christmas gift (almost always singular) and the rare and exciting occasions when a piece of clothing was purchased just for me (I had an older brother and cousins who provided the vast majority of my wardrobe). We celebrated birthdays with a simple family dinner and a cake, which was, to me, exciting enough. It’s only very recently that I am beginning to understand that, thanks in large part to the cultural tendencies of my modest immigrant family, I may be among the fortunate few who choose minimalism through a gradual journey rather than a dramatic break.
But, economic background aside, I don’t see minimalism as being about things. Not really. To me, minimalism is about reducing the TIME that I spend on undertakings that are not important to me. Sadly, it is true that so much of our time is spent on things. We spend time to make money to afford things: a house, a car, clothes, etc. And then we spend more time and more money to maintain those things.
And yet, I don’t think that the most important part of minimalism is the challenge of finding a way to live with less. To me, the key is to discover the “things” that you want to keep in your life. It is about finding out what you want to spend your time and resources on. Working to make room for those things becomes a necessary byproduct of their discovery. So minimalism, to me, is all about identifying what really matters to you and then making as much space as you can for whatever that may be. It’s about maximizing.
My life, quite honestly, is not all that streamlined. I have far more crap than I need. And there are many things that interfere with my ability to pursue my priorities. It is, and always will be, a work in progress. But I am convinced that the journey is worthwhile. And I think it could benefit from a little re-branding. I think I’m going to call it “maximalism”, slowmamma style.