This is part 1 of my New Year series, a trilogy of posts about 2017. First up is about looking forward. One of my resolutions this year is to implement the tenets of minimalism in how I spend my time.
December 2014. Pock-marked, grey carpet that used to be a light beige. Flung clothing scattered about the room, covering the carpet where the bed frame was just an hour ago before family friends picked it up. Bureaus with their drawers gaping open, a sad countenance. And me, winded from folding clothes for three hours straight, head propped up on the edge of an undressed mattress.
And I hadn’t even made a dent.
My family and I were in the chaos of packing our lives up. We were moving from Southern California to Canada the first week of January. That just a few weeks left of preparation before saying goodbye to thirteen years in our Reseda apartment.
And, among a tempest of thoughts and clothes, one was this: We had too much stuff.
That past summer, though, I had encountered the lifestyle movement of minimalism. At first I thought it was just living with less stuff (something I definitely needed to do). But as I read up, I discovered the adaptability of the word, how it can mold to each person seeking a simpler life.
As The Minimalists proclaim, it’s not necessarily about having less stuff (though it certainly can be), but rather having things in your life that have true value.
So if that meant less stuff to some people, less frivolous distraction for others, and less spending for the rest, that was minimalism. But it also meant that there was more time with family, more memories made instead of money spent. It meant living mindfully.
So I got rid of most of my stuff before I moved. But after a year in Canada, I fell into the same pattern of receiving or purchasing mindless goods without filtering them. Once again, I put value in stuff. This is a practice I knew to only give me a temporary sense of validation, not a long-term happiness.
2016 was a little bit better: I stopped buying from fast fashion retailers, and stopped buying overall. If I needed something, I bought secondhand. In terms of stuff, I was making progress in minimizing. However, the less time I spent worrying over material goods, the more time I freed up; the more time I had, the more I wasted it.
So my main goal in 2017 is to implement the lifestyle mantras of minimalism into my everyday actions and interactions. I want to spend less time on my phone scrolling through various feeds until my head feels numb. I want to spend less time on the internet if it’s not constructive, and instead use the various resources I’m privileged with, especially what UTM offers, to grow as a person.
Because, in a way, I am still spending this finite resource, time, on things that are not bringing my life value. It’s similar to my previous habit of buying clothes and other trivial knick knacks, but with a currency more precious, one I can’t earn back.
So this resolution is about looking forward, to 2017 and all its potential. I am looking forward to spending time with purpose, cognizant of how I am living. After all, as Annie Dillard said: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
Here are some of the resources I used to get started and educate myself about minimalism, and a few recent discoveries.
- The Minimalists
- The True Cost documentary
- No Sidebar
- Becoming Minimalist
- Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things
- Yolanda V. Acree’s blog
Admittedly, I have recognized that most of the (popular, successful) bloggers who document their foray into the lifestyle would not be considered minorities. I have also read up on the minorities’ and skeptics’ perspectives on minimalism: how material goods are immediate security blankets for the impoverished because new shoes are easier to obtain than stock investments; how minimalism translates into privilege because having less stuff increases risk and the cushion of money counteracts that; and how minimalism still puts the emphasis on stuff, but just the lack of it (it’s still a counting game). I’ve learned from a lot of these points of view, so I urge you to read up too.
So what do you think about minimalism? Yay or nay?