This morning, I’m feeling giddy with excitement, inspiration, and curiosity. It’s been a while since I’ve felt this way. Perhaps being over 3 weeks sober has something to do with it. That, and the extreme(ish) minimalist experiment I’m about to undertake.
After a Saturday intentionally binging my favourite videogames (which I’d been looking forward to for days), I feel mentally refreshed. Specifically, I feel ready to act on the serious life questions I’ve been asking myself and journalling about for the past couple of months:
- Where is your life heading?
- How do you feel about where you currently are?
- Where do you think you will be a decade from now if you stay how you currently are?
- How do you think you will feel at the end of your life if things stay as they are?
- In detail, what do you want your life to be like?
- How do you want to feel?
- What’s holding you back?
- What would you do right now, if there was no fear, and no way you could fail?
It’s questions like these that have lead to me questioning my relationship with alcohol (which I’ve now severed), and my relationship with the stuff I own.
My relationship to the stuff I’ve chosen to keep over the years was called into question even more over the past week.
For one thing, my 2 year old daughter decided to use one of my rare, collectable figurines as an action figure and broke the stand. The old me would have been furious. Gutted. Instead, I sighed and told myself over and over ‘it’s just stuff’. But there was still this low level annoyance and sadness that not even superglue would fix it.
I thought ‘here I go again’, and wondered what the point is in directing our precious time and energy into stuff. Stuff which doesn’t even have a bearing on where we will be a year or a decade from now.
Thinking of it that way, it doesn’t make a shred of sense.
Thinking About Extreme Minimalism
For years, I’ve been fascinated by extreme minimalism. Extreme minimalists own a very limited inventory of items which are essential to them in their daily lives. Think 100 items or less.
Personally, I’ve never thought that extreme minimalism is extreme.
We tack this word on because we’re so used to living with convenience, and shopping to fill voids in our lives. We’re so used to being told that we need to look a certain way, to own a certain brand, and that if we have more, we will be happy.
But what if it’s the consumerist rat race that’s actually the extreme lifestyle?
After all, it is a lifestyle that leads to extreme stress, extreme working hours, and extreme debt.
Before the industrial revolution, before humans made things on mass in factories, and before there was profit to be made on our desires, we were naturally minimalist. We bartered with our skills, our farm animals, or food produce.
Now we work our asses off to afford our endless desires and spend much of the time daydreaming about living a happier life. We barter with status and compete for the most, the best, and the trendiest.
Because we’re caught in the never-ending rat race of money, status and expectations. A race that has no winners.
We don’t stop to consider what life would be like without all that pressure and noise. We don’t realise that we’ve sleepwalked into our own personal prisons of ownership and status.
As we agonise over whether to get rid of our old hobby equipment, or over which shirt will match our shoes, rarely do we think about the fact that there are people out there successfully living out of a backpack.
There are also people out there living with less because they can’t afford the basics.
There’s a difference between intentionally living with less so that you can live a life of freedom, and living with less because you can’t afford to put food on the table. There’s the poverty trap, but on the other side of the coin is the consumerist trap.
Extreme minimalists are not depriving themselves of anything. They have the basics to live the life they desire and the means to choose their own path.
My Extreme(ish) Minimalist Challenge
As you may (or may not) know, I’ve been a minimalist for around 6 years now. But as I consider the huge changes I want in my career, and my life in general, I’ve decided to take on my version of an extreme minimalist challenge.
I say ‘my version’ because I live with my husband and my two children aged 2 and 9. My eldest is autistic with ADHD, and my youngest is, well, a toddler. A whirlwind of wants and angry displays of ‘It’s my way, and everything that’s yours is mine, mine, mine!’. In fact, she already knows what she wants for her birthday in a months time!
See, we learn to desire stuff, to own stuff, and to hoard stuff from a very young age.
The challenge is to unlearn it all.
For this challenge I’m going to start by making a list of things which I think are essential to me. Everything else will get boxed up in the attic. I’m not bringing my family into this challenge (unless they want to, of course!) as it’s personal to me and I want to see if living with even less brings me closer to my goals.
Objects shared within the household won’t factor into this experiment unless my husband decides we really don’t need it, like we agreed this morning about the bath caddy.
Currently, I don’t have a particular number of items in mind – that will come later after I’ve devised my list. I can, however, already visualise certain objects that will be getting boxed.
I’m excited to share the list with you in my next post where I will also talk about what got boxed up and why.
I’ll be sharing my thoughts about this experiment as it goes along, including if I decide to bring anything back out of the box.
If you have any questions or want to share your thoughts, feel free to comment or drop me an email.
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