Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Unintentional Minimalist

I never had any intention of becoming a minimalist. 

            I liked my things, all my toys and Barbies and clothes. I had many of the things little girls dream of having. My mother had always been obsessed with getting all of the stuff, because she never had as much of it as she wanted having three kids on a bartender's salary. She loved Walmart, so I loved Walmart. Things were cheap, and we could have McDonald's for lunch. Oh, and we loved McDonald's. We had it at least a couple of times a week. How could a family not drown itself in cheeseburgers when they were $0.39 a piece? She was always convinced that if she had enough stuff, she would be happy.
         I moved out of my mom's place when I was sixteen, for a long list of reasons, and I could only take what I could carry. This amounted to a suitcase of clothing, a few pictures, and my notebooks - journals where I had documented my life in pictures, writing, and lists since I was about seven. As I grabbed my most important possessions, I resented having to leave so much behind from my childhood. Everything was ripped from me, and at first, I was so angry about losing everything. However, my immediate concern became where I was going to live for the last two years of high school.
         My grandma lived down the street from my mom's house, so I ended up moving in with her. She had always been heavily involved in my life, and she had a bedroom that she was happy to give up for me to have my own space. It wasn't as if she had a lot of things to move; my grandma could put all of her things in a few boxes. She had three outfits, a bible, a few self-help books, and her mountain of photo albums. She was a scrapbooker, but not like those sappy old ladies who buy the prefabs and just assemble them. She was an artist. When we were little, my grandma would draw pictures of our favorites cartoons for us to color in. She now let her artistic drive rule over her most beloved possessions; pictures of her family.
         I was confined to the house with no connection to the outside world, except for church which my mother thought would straighten me out. But, before long, I got my first job. My little empty room grew to have a table and this antique chair I found on a thrift store trip with my best friend. I slowly gained my freedom, beginning to fill my space with things I thought I needed.
         The next time I gave away all of things was three years later. My now ex-husband had joined the army, and his extended training was in San Antonio. I didn't have much to wait around for at home, so I uprooted and left, in my first bout of unintended self-discovery. Everything that didn't fit into two suitcases was left, ransacked by family members and the rest by a church for a fundraiser. I felt no regret at the loss, though my mother-in-law seemed utterly confused by my odd way of doing things. When I arrived in San Antonio, I was positively liberated. I felt like I was aflame, and it would only take a little more effort to fly.
         Well, fast forward to today, and some things have changed. My mother hasn't; she still loves her things, and she will never have enough. My grandma still only has the things that matter to her. Then, there is me. After losing all of my things twice, I realized something. When I didn't have a bunch of stuff, I was happier than I had ever been. I loved being mobile, not having anything to hold me down or back. 
         This is why I am entering the blogosphere; I want to spread this self-awareness through giving up material possessions to anyone who is willing to listen and give it a try. It has taken me longer than I like to admit, but I finally discovered what my values are. I will work to maintain those values through my own personal form of minimalist and my writing on the experiences of someone who is not in what many would consider to be the ideal place in life to become a dedicated minimalist, though I think there is no bad time to begin downsizing possessions to improve your quality of life. My goal is to demonstrate that now is the time to start your own minimalist adventure, no matter where you are in life. 

       The challenge is I issue you today is for you to decide if all of the things in your life are contributing to your personal happiness. If something no longer serves you, it doesn't belong in your life. If you can release just one thing today, do it! 

       If you would like some more reading material until I get more up, check out The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life by Leo Babauta.

No comments:

Post a Comment