One of the things that I perceive to be negative about minimalism is the term minimalism itself. I believe it conjures up ideas of becoming a monk, living in a monastery, waking for 4am prayers, and leading a life of silent prayer.
And perhaps a portion of people who hear the minimalist ideas will only ever believe this, but for those with a willingness to learn and a mind open to new ideas, I write the following:
Minimalism is not about owning less, for the sake of owning less. Owning less is not the objective, owning less is actually a byproduct of the minimalist mindset. There are those who count the things they own, as if this were some weird race to the bottom. Personally, I am a problem solver, and minimalism is a solution to a problem.
My problem is not “I own too many things.”
So what problem does minimalism address? Two years ago, following the GTD process, I created lists of all the things I had to do. I created lists of things that needed to be done, once a week, once a month, once a year. By the time I had finished, what actually was in front of me was the life I had created for myself.
All I can think of having written the above, is Alan Rickman quoting Plutarch in Die Hard:
“And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept…for there were no more worlds to conquer.”
I realised that it wasn’t a life that was compatible with what I actually want to achieve in my short time on this Earth. I faced two problems that I needed to solve.
The first was that my life was so full of things that I couldn’t envision ever having enough time to do it all deliberately and well. My life would be destined to become one of half completed tasks and people half loved.
The second would be the things I hadn’t found time for; the things that I wanted to do but that were crowded off the lists. I found that when I went on holiday, I did four things that I really wanted to do but never found the time for when leading a busy life: reading, writing, walking and photographing. These went on my someday list, never to be seen again.
These two things motivate me to be minimalist: we can do less of the things that we don’t enjoy, and more of the things that we do.