Vision 2020: Minimalism or Living Simple

Vision 2020: Minimalism or Living Simple

What is Minimalism? Strictly speaking the dictionary attributes it to a style of art or music. For myself I think of it as a reduction of clutter. A simplification of everything and the removal of noise. For day-to-day life, we could call it Living Simple. The simplification is only a part of it. That is the process by which one can get from a cluttered state to an uncluttered state. But Living Simple to me is more than just the process, it is also a mindset. As with so many others, growing up in a capitalist, consumerist society, I have been bombarded with the message that having more stuff results in happiness. That having the latest, coolest stuff somehow might keep various troubles of the world away. What I’ve found, in practice, is that stuff collects. Stuff takes up space. Stuff can be overwhelming and confining. That is not to say that I’m immune to the emotional gratification that obtaining a new bit of stuff can produce, but overall I find myself yearning for a simpler space with less stuff.

As family, former housemates and anyone who has ever helped me move could attest, I have had quite a bit of stuff that I’ve carried along with me from place to place. Some of it dating back to before high school. I had the fortune/misfortune of having a bedroom twice as big as a typical kid (thanks to a converted garage), and my stuff grew to fill it, much like a goldfish and his fish tank. It takes a lot of effort go through all this stuff and weed out the good from the useless. Over the years I’ve made significant progress, but there is still a lot of stuff that I know needs to just go away. I’ve been in my house for a little over 3 years now. When I moved in I had the lofty goal of getting through everything in those first 3, 6 or 9 months. In reality, what happened was I reached a certain level of livability, and more or less stopped. Major things I needed had found their place. Those things I hadn’t needed immediately had found nice little corners out of the way where they could stay until I went through them. And as they say, out of sight, out of mind. =P

So, with my look into the new year and the years beyond, I’m re-evaluating the current state of my stuff. The Stuff, and the process of going through the stuff are a major distraction and cause quite a bit of resistance when trying to move on in life. It needs to be dealt with eventually, and the sooner the better. But even so, I am trying to find a balance between de-cluttering and maintaining creative momentum. Do I think I’ll get through it all in the coming year? Unlikely. Do I think it will take me until 2020 to complete this goal and be free of clutter & unwanted stuff? I sure hope not!

To that end, I’ve defined success as “Forward Progress”. Keeping current as new things are added (managing paperwork, etc.) and making some progress on the backlog on a daily basis. As I get further along in reducing my Stuff, the results will be more apparent. Success, to me, means also not ignoring the creative projects by getting too wrapped up in that forward progress. That is the point of this, after all, to foster an environment where creativity thrives. Ultimately, de-cluttering is a means, not the goal itself.



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