Before I explain why I am a minimalist I want to define minimalism as I see it.
Minimalism is the act of having just what one needs and loves to be content and nothing more.
I grew up in a home where flat surfaces were bare, things were put away neatly and the home had this comfortable and welcoming feel to it. You always knew you could open the door to unexpected guests and not be embarrassed because the house was a mess. Behind the pantry door the shelves were carefully stocked with everything needed to feed a family for weeks or for afternoons of baking.
The basement while organized had everything you could ever want but it didn’t appear that way unless you took the time to inspect it. Boxes were filled and labeled from Christmas ornaments to yarn for crafting and set in the rafters not on the floor or shelves taking up floor space.
I was also fortunate to spend my summers camping. I would pack half a trunk to take (a small footlocker) with me. This had to hold everything I needed for seven or eight weeks. I would have no access to laundry during this period so packing had to be carefully planned. As much as packing the first few years was stressful wondering if I would need an item I deemed unimportant, I loved having everything I needed in one small space.
I wasn’t as rigid about flat surfaces always being clear while I raised my family, like my childhood home had been. I had my share of shelves that held books, games and other activities but I was insistent that if we didn’t use or need an item it was out the door.
I raised my family in 840 sq feet, and while the boys, as teens, had rooms so full it drove me crazy it was their space to do what they wished, I simply asked that they keep the doors closed so the house on a whole felt clean and tidy. I took on the attitude that I wanted my home to be welcoming and not ever feel the need to apologize for a mess if there was a surprise knock at the door. We didn’t need a larger home because home was simply our haven when we needed to come in from the outside world. We spent more time outdoors with nature than we did indoors so why have a larger home?
Now that I am on my own I can have every space in the house exactly as I want it. I’m also in the second half of my life and don’t want to waste time cleaning stuff I don’t use. I have too much living to do in the years left and I’d rather still spend that time in nature as I did as a child.
Once my last child left home I began collecting all the extraneous stuff I acquired raising a family. The things ranged from children’s movies to bakeware and even pieces of furniture. Some my children took to fill a need in their homes some went to friends and some was donated. It didn’t matter to me how it left just so it wasn’t filling the spaces of my home.
I’m also cognizant of the fact that life can be unpredictable and I don’t want my family to have to be the ones to deal with the clutter after I’m gone.
But there is another reason I am a minimalist. It’s better for the environment. I have grown children and small grandchildren. I want to leave them a world they can enjoy as I did. The more stuff I buy and fill my home with the more resources I am taking from their future. Instead, I am sharing the skills I have with them, teaching them how to grow their own food, teaching them the gifts nature has to offer and showing them the skills my grandparents taught me.
We live in a world of abundance but we’ve taken advantage of this abundance and are paying the price for it. Me, I’ll live as lightly as I can and know I have little to feel guilty when handing off this world to the future generations.