Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Minimalism and Charlotte Mason (first of three)

Minimalism defined as choice is a very Charlotte Mason concept.

That is, selecting your personal and household possessions not by trend and fad, but by individual choice based on principles of taste and suitability. As one example, Mason wrote that collections of objects are not bad in themselves; but that they should be worthwhile objects, and should be properly arranged and cared for. In her view, spending a great deal of money or travelling miles to add to the hoard may be a meaningless pursuit; on the other hand, a "free" collection of natural objects might be carefully curated and very significant. This is, in its best sense, "sparking joy."
A lesson plan on using flowers to design an embroidered book cover implies that some people, at least, enjoy designing, making, or owning embroidered book covers. It also discourages the use of cookie-cutter patterns. Aren't things more meaningful when they hold a bit of the maker's imagination? 

Charlotte Mason says that it can be fine to choose a standard  item of clothing or furniture, if that's what makes the most sense and if it means you don't have to "dither" over it. She emphasizes priorities, keeping things in proportion, and not being obsessive about perfect shopping choices. Life makes many other demands on us, and we are here to serve others--not to be served. 
But at the same time, serving others includes creating cheerful homes and classrooms, with as much comfort and beauty as we can manage. We do not default to the cheapest, plainest alternative either because we think paying the lowest price is the highest good or because our small-p-puritan ethic demands no frills or colour. In this era of madly cleaning out and embracing plain walls and white sheets (but only the best sheets), we may not realize how much we are, as much as ever, still following fashion and opinion, but missing the heart. To do what everybody's doing is to live in fear of offending, or in the self-centered wish to seem hip. We walk rather in faith, knowing that we have chosen.

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