You buy furniture. You tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. Buy the sofa, then for a couple years you’re satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you’ve got your sofa issue handled. Then the right set of dishes. Then the perfect bed. The drapes. The rug. Then you’re trapped in your lovely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you.
– Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
Throw it all away. Rid yourself of all earthly belongings. Realize that material things cannot bring you happiness. Realize that things will out live you on earth, but you’ll ultimately out live them in the spirit. Subject yourself to barrenness and you may reap the benefits of a clearer mind.
Could you do it? Could you sleep on a cot in a stark white room with no pictures adorning the walls, no plants, no television, no bookshelves? Could you rid yourself of even half of your possessions? Don’t fret if you can’t. You can still be minimalists in some respect – there are (apparently) levels of minimalism. There are minimalists who are into it for organization and aesthetics only – I guess these would be your devoted Container Store shoppers. There are also the minimalist that give up anything that isn’t necessary, things that aren’t used daily. These are your more hardcore minimalists.
I got into watching these YouTube videos about minimalism and fell down the rabbit hole.I noticed that it was a sort of movement. There are minimalists with children, minimalists that refuse to have children. There are minimalists that eat meat and minimalists that associate the movement with veganism. There are minimalists that drive and minimalists that refuse to own a vehicle – and on it goes.
I have to say, there is something soothing about watching these videos. It’s hard to put my finger on it – maybe it taps into the OCD part of my brain. There is a video where Jenny Mustard (bleach blonde vegan that sounds Dutch) shows what kind of paper she prefers to write on and how to make list with this special fine point pen she uses to write with small, curvy, artistic precision. I started writing smaller after watching this
Most minimalists claim that decluttering your space helps to declutter your mind. Are they onto something here? I do get some sort of satisfaction throwing away trash that’s left around the house. An empty soda can left on the table, an old paper plate etc. I do find that taking a bag of chips from the counter, creasing the top while folding it neatly, and putting a close pin on it before putting it back into its proper place in the cupboard can be satisfying. I like the blank spaces that are left behind as I do these little chores.
What is it about these acts of “getting rid of” that gives us a gratifying feeling? Why is throwing away our trash rewarding, but throwing away an old paperback novel that you’ll probably never read again so discontenting? Why do so many meaningless objects hold weight? Is this what hoarding is really all about?
Does the hoarder find meaning in every object to the point of making it hard to throw anything away? While we may have a hard time ridding ourselves of a comic collection, the hoarder must have that same feeling about old newspapers; where they eventually have a room stacked floor to ceiling with old worthless newspapers covered in mouse droppings. When you take this into consideration – the fact that we are attaching feelings and meaning to the objects, the real question that we must ask ourselves is if these things matter at all.