I have so many things around that I am not using, that I carry from place to place, that have sentimental value, that I need. Why am I not using these things? Why am I carrying them around? Why do these things have sentimental value? Why do I need them?
Let use books for example. I have over 60 books that I plan to sell/donate over the next 3 weeks. Some of these books I’ve had since high school. Yeah, high school. Over 10 years. Parents have stored them for me. I’ve had friends help me move them from apartment to apartment. I stress over how to display so many books. I worry that I haven’t read all of these books and if someone asks me about one of them, I won’t have anything to say. I think about making a list of which books I want to re-read but there’s so many it’s hard to decide. Some of these books have sentimental value. “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley is my favorite book.
I’m tempted to say I love this thing but that’s not appropriate.
I don’t love things.
I love people and experiences.
I love the experience of reading this book for the first time in high school and being blown away by the world Huxley created, the anti-establishment ideals it embodied, and how foreshadowing his concepts were and still are. That’s the sentiment. I have that whether I possess his book or not. This is a book that I will keep. I am keeping about 15-20 books. Some are literary. Some are informational. I feel all of them will serve me. Even out of those 15-20, if I had to get rid of them, if they got destroyed in a fire, I would not cry. I would not worry. They are just books. I can find them online if I need them later. If anything, I’d be relieved that I didn’t have to occupy myself with storing/organizing them. I won’t keep these last 15-20 books because I think I need them. I don’t need them. I want them so that I can learn from them, escape through them, and further enrich my writing practice at this moment. Once they have served me and have no other purpose, I will get rid of them.
I don’t own these things.
I am simply borrowing them.
They are temporary, as am I.
This mindset really puts “things” in perspective. I’m more mindful when I need to buy a thing, when I am gifted a thing, when things find their way into my home. This translates well to emotions too. For me, this is a lot harder than just getting rid of stuff. When someone does something that causes me to feel something, it’s really hard to not let that emotion take over but I can stop myself from acting on it impulsively.
When I find a safe space, I take that emotion to my journal and figure out where it came from and what I want to do with it.
Sometimes, I decide I will act on it. Sometimes, it’s an “old feeling” that does not serve me anymore, so I try to let it go through more writing.
I don’t have space for everything. I only have space for me and the things that serve me at this moment. I’m making more space for me and my passions and cutting out the distractions — material and immaterial. My passion is writing. Most of my “physical” writing is secure on the “cloud.” Things like journals are not, but if these were to be destroyed I would be sad, but I would also move on. You have to. Minimalism isn’t just about de-cluttering or living out of a suitcase.
For me, it’s a deeply reflective practice in defining who I am, not through the things I own, but through my passions and behavior.
I strongly recommend the work of The Minimalists. I didn’t fully commit to minimalism until I discovered their podcast. They have a documentary that is definitely worth watching. I rented it on Amazon Prime. They also have books.
If it pleases you, please tell me what role minimalism has in your life? When did you discover it? How has it improved your life? What are your struggles?