Making a minimalist manifesto.
May 18, 2012, 1:20 pm
Filed under: Behavior, Minimalism, Organization, Writing

To live content with small means;

to seek elegance rather than luxury,

and refinement rather than fashion;

to be worthy, not respectable; and

wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think

quietly, talk gently, act frankly… to

listen to stars and buds, to babes and

sages, with open heart; await occasions,

hurry never… this is my symphony.

– William Henry Channing

Minimalism is more than about having less “things” or creating more physical space in your environment.

These words, to me, awaken a feeling of space and hope. It’s the assurance that wherever I am, I’m never defined by what I own.

Shirking the mall in search of meaning and going minimal seems to be a growing movement. But it needn’t only be a personal endeavor “to find one’s self” (strike the gong and light the incense.) One of the basic premises of the minimalist lifestyle is that it creates space to foster greater health in relationships, more time to devote for your physical and mental health and various benefits for your community.

“Stuff” invokes different feelings in different people. Of course many material items are necessary. They are helpful, useful and even vital to sustaining and maintaining life. Beyond that, these things can even be playful, unique, utilitarian or artistic. Being a minimalist is not about HATING STUFF, it is about loving space, loving health and loving relationships. Well, that’s my take. You can read here for more detail. The blogosphere is booming with minimalist musings.

About two years ago I began taking small steps toward living a more simple life with just a few changes:

1. Don’t buy any item of clothing unless you are in love with it and you truly need it. When you add to your closet, clear out what is old or unneeded.

2. Shop locally. Avoid big box stores (I’ve slipped once or twice in my boycott on Wal-Mart)  at all costs.  Support independent businesses and made in the U.S.A. whenever possible.

3. Shop around the perimeter of the grocery store (where all the fresh and whole foods are.) Or visit local farmer’s markets. Always take your own bags.

Little steps add up to larger things and the journey continues! But do not be daunted by any extreme connotation in the word “minimalism.” Like anything, it happens with small actions.

My next step is taking the “1,000 item challenge” as my fiance and I move out of our little studio apartment. I thought it was a great opportunity to review and revise. (It actually amazed me how much stuff we managed to store and accumulate over two years in such a small space.) So far I’ve only managed to purge 220 items or so (individual CDs, pens, old notebooks count for those of you who are thinking 1,000 things sounds too grand.) Of course thrown in the mix are larger junk items… useless broken coffeemaker, outdated cellphones, and the like.



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