Thursday, June 01, 2017

Rise and shine (or, the unexpected journey toward minimalist living)

So did you have a chance yet to look at 10 Ways Minimalism Ruined My Life Forever? It's tongue-in-cheek, of course, because the Welder's Wife blog is all about letting things go and living more naturally, a little at a time. An example of her objections: "I no longer have the pleasure of searching for something."  But yes, she's right, in a way. Making more "mindful" choices in any area of our lives takes more brain power than taking the default option. Most times those choices are going to cost us something, or at least force us to use flabby will-muscles that are, naturally, going to object to being roused and stretched.
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Our old habits, too, may not take kindly to being ignored. The clean-swept room, and all that. If you find a certain comfort in piles of things, or enjoy having something of an Undiscovered Country in the basement, then trimming stuff down may seem akin to stripping naked. There are always things we would just as soon hide, and I don't mean the garbage bag (or three) full of mouldering stuffed animals or high school t-shirts, but the anxieties and old scripts that brought them in and left them there in the first place. Letting stuff go can feel like you've just been kicked in the hopes and dreams. Or like you've just let somebody down who would be very, very disappointed in you for not keeping that thing.
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After giving it some thought, I would say that the biggest thing you might lose, on the way to living with less, is a sense of urgency. Or emergency. That is (as the Welder's Wife said), you miss not only the fun of searching for a needle in a clutter haystack or an overstuffed desk drawer, but the embarrassment, panic, and threatened consequences that sometimes go with those searches. We can find more enjoyable ways to get that adrenaline rush.

And it's true, as that post says, that if we suddenly are freed from shopping and maintaining and paying for things, we may have to face questions like "what else is there to do with my time?" As with silence, many of us are a little uncomfortable with empty spaces, both physical and temporal.

But reality sometimes (thankfully) steps in and gives us no choice, or at least makes very clear what choices we need to make, and fast. A Sold sign out front is one way to do it. For some people like Courtney Carver, change comes after a health crisis.  Or someone asks us to come on a dragon-hunting adventure, with dwarves...and pack light.

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