Minimalism seems to be the new buzz craze used to cure just about everything which ails you, from lethargy to the common cold. I can categorically say that yes, having only a small amount of crap is wonderfully liberating in lots of different ways compared to having tonnes of mindless shit hanging about. There’s less to dust and tidy and lose your other crap in. People think you’re an amazing house keeper when really, all you’ve done is shifted a skip’s worth of plastic and ornaments people gave you which you never liked anyway, out of the way. Your house resembles a beautifully appointed hotel room before you open your suitcase and let your stuff explode over the room. And most of all, you can smugly tell your admiring friends that you are now embracing minimalism as your new
But the problems associated with this new fantastic way of flirting with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder are many. I’d like to start with my own core problem areas which I have identified as:
All of these beautiful people enrich my life in ways beyond expression; I thank the universe with gratitude that they have been brought to me. However, I certainly do not thank the bits of paraphernalia that come with them. In fact, I’m really keen to piss that shit off.
1. My husband:
When my husband fills out surveys on what his hobbies are, there is never enough space. And there’s always a glib “Just to name a few (smiley face)” at the end. What a wonderfully fulfilled life he must have to be connected to so many ways of enjoying himself… Come and have a look at my garage, where usually, people like to park their cars. Golf clubs, fishing rods and every thing you could possibly associate with catching waterborn beings, surfboards, ski gear, woodworking sets, mechanical tools, gardening stuff, camping gear… the list goes on and on and on. Here lies the problem: this inevitably spills into the house. A fishing lure here, a hammer there, boardshorts and t shirts in varying degrees of dirtiness hanging over almost every surface (“I’m still wearing that!?”). It’s hard to be smug about your minimalist lifestyle when you find a fishing shirt encrusted with some kind of bait hanging over your dining room chair.
2. My children:
…are bowerbirds. Unfortunately they don’t make a pretty nest and then fill it with all sorts of kitsch things from the same colour palate. I do not ooh and aah over their collections of dead grasshoppers, used plastic straws and broken bits of unidentified Barbies or Tonka trucks. Again, it’s hard to be smug about rubbish they find at the playground and then squirrel away somewhere impossible to find until you’re being self-righteous about the new, simple clutter free lifestyle you’ve embraced. Then you find it- all at once- everything collected from the last three dirty, dirty weeks.
3. My mother:
This is where it gets tricky. Mum’s offerings into my hopeful minimalist space are always useful, sometimes aesthetically pleasing and in someway nourishing (mostly in terms of packets of cookies for the kids and copious amounts of one kind of fruit from her garden. Banana smoothie, banana muffin, banana bread, banana pudding, banana jam, banana toast anyone??). But there is one item- the crystal bowl or the Fucking Glass Basket (FGB) as it has become known. A piece inherited from her mother, my mother handed it to me with the words every grown up child hates: “I know you’ll look after it. Properly.” When we moved interstate with our six week old baby, it was not her granddaughter’s well being or that of our collective possessions she rang about on the day before the move, half way through the drive to the new house and an hour after we arrived. No. It was about that FGB. How had it been packed? Where was it now? Did it get chipped in anyway? No Mum, it’s been transported safely and is now taking pride of place on our mantelpiece in our new home. Your granddaughter on the other hand has broken out in hives, won’t stop crying and we’re thinking of just taking her back to the hospital and getting a new one…. So now I have a FGB I feel compelled to display which is completely screwing with my minimalist chakra.
So my tip for leading the minimalist life with panache and success? Get rid of all that other dead weight first, like your loved ones, before you start tossing out your other goods. It’ll save you a heap of angst so you can get on with feeling superior about having nothing but a couch and a light in your living room. Of course, no one else will be there with you, but you’ll have a lot less to dust.
Disclaimer: The author may or may not have mentioned her own contribution to a not so minimalist life with items (left willy nilly on the kitchen bench) such as but not limited to: grocery receipts, wipes, handbags, water bottles, shoes and Aldi catalogues.