I embraced it enthusiastically. Well, I embraced the idea of it. And I tried to embrace the actual practices. I made many real, significant changes in my life. And yet, I can’t say I’ve succeeded in my quest to truly embrace minimalism.
Truthfully, it feels like I’ve failed.
But I know that’s not an honest, or accurate, way of looking at it. Where I ended up is not definitively in the camp of “failure,” or “success,” but somewhere in the murky, unquantifiable, middle.
Isn’t that where we usually end up?
In so many ways, I’m a complete convert. I really do believe in the philosophy of minimalism. I absolute agree that I would be happier with less stuff. Of course, the practice of getting rid of, and keeping rid off, that stuff, is harder to implement than it is to embrace.
In some ways, I really have changed. I haven’t purchased a book in ages. Maybe one or two for my kids, but very, very few. I don’t buy them many (hardly any, really) toys or clothes. In many of the areas of my life I’ve purged and not let the things back in.
But my closet is still a mess. I just don’t have much desire to get rid of most of my clothes. I like wearing the clothes that I have and if I notice I’m not wearing something I get rid of it, but I haven’t purged my closet down to the number of items I suspect people who are really minimalists have. Same with my shoes. I have more shoes than I need, and yet I wear them all. Could I live with fewer? Sure, but I don’t really want to.
And there are some tenants I can’t quite get behind, like the idea that one is always enough. I’m sorry but one set of sheets is not enough. Actually, I like to have three sets of sheets for every bed that is being used on the reg. There have been countless times when I have needed a third pair of sheets for any one of our beds. The idea of only having one of set is insane to me.
I have two sets of my daughter’s lunch and snack boxes. I’m looking to get a fourth smoothie cup so we have two sets of two and don’t have to wash one set every day to serve two smoothies. Do I need two sets? No. But it makes my life easier.
I still really appreciate my life being easier, and sometimes that means having more than one of something.
So what (physically) does my life look like over a year after I “embraced” minimalism? It may not seem like it’s much different–there are still toys all over the living room floor, and clean laundry toppled about the sofa, and piles of books and other flotsam and jetsam on my bedroom floor, and flurries of crap on my wardrobe and papers on my kitchen cutting board/island. But it feels different. Because none of those messes stress me out the way they used to; I know I can clean them up if I am so inclined. I still KNOW where all the things go and if I start picking up things look substantially neater in just 30 minutes or so. The layer of chaos is still there, but it’s a controlled chaos that I understand and can master. I don’t feel overwhelmed by it in the ways I once did.
I’m still reading lots of minimalist blogs. I nod along, agreeing with them on most points. I recognize that my life is better for having “embraced” minimalism, and I want to keep the ideas alive. Could I improve? Absolutely! Every day I think about committing to the ideals of minimalism a bit more. Sometimes I manage it, most days I don’t. And that’s okay. The seed has sprouted, and even though it’s growing slowly, it would take a lot to uproot. I hope to tend to it more, water it, transfer it to better soil. For now I’m giving it what it needs to survive, even if it can’t thrive. And that is better that nothing.
I wish I could just commit to minimalism full throttle and never look back. I think I would be happier that way. But it’s not how I operate. It’s going to take a lot of years to get me where I want to be. I do believe I’ll arrive at the desired destination, it’s just not going to happen any time soon.
I’m trying to be okay with that. Getting there eventually is better than never getting there at all. I’d rather keep the dream alive despite not having achieved it, because I know that I’ll be better off for it some day.
And I know that as unlikely as it seems at the moment, I will eventually wake up and realize that some day has arrived, that I will be living the minimalist life I always dreamed of.
It will have been worth the wait.