On the one hand, I would call myself a Moderate Minimalist. On the other hand, I am on a quest for more self sufficiency. Therein lies the question. How do we find common ground in minimalism vs self sufficiency?
Minimalism vs Self Sufficiency
The buzz word over recent years has been “Minimalism”. What is minimalism exactly? I think there are varied levels to minimalism.
I read about people who have been able to rid themselves of all but a few items that can be contained in a hobo knapsack. This would be a pretty extreme end of minimalism. I am not at that end of the spectrum.
What Minimalism Is Not To Me
- Living in a Tiny House.
- Living in an RV (I know people who are doing this and, I believe, are still happy with their decision)
- Owning 100 items or less.
- Wearing only one color of clothing
- Never buying anything new.
- A white on white on white color scheme.
- Counting every item I own.
- Radical Purging.
- Not owning a car.
- Feeling guilty for buying something new.
- Living a Vegan or Vegetarian lifestyle.
Not that these are terrible ideas to be avoided at all cost but, I have been part of groups who seem to have an ongoing contest of “Whoever purges the most wins”.
Just getting rid of things, in my point of view is only part of the equation. It seems that’s just another way of transferring from one obsession to another. Okay, maybe the word obsession is a bit extreme.
As this wave of minimalism sweeps across our society, I too have come to realize things are not what life is all about. Things we own should be about making life easier or bring some sort of pleasure into our lives. But not something that causes more work or anxiety.
More things require that we have to take care and maintain them. We have to work harder to earn money to purchase them. All the while allowing less time to enjoy these things we thought we so desperately needed.
However, some of the things I own do allow me the ability to a more self sufficient lifestyle.
Where Minimalism Compliments Self Sufficiency
- I own a home. Actually, the bank and I are still co-owners. At least for a little while longer. And while at one time I wished for a mansion on the hill, I am quite, well mostly, satisfied with my small house (the exception is that I hate my tiny kitchen). It is better suited to my current needs since I no longer have a house full of children. My youngest is here probably only about 50% of the time.
- I own a vehicle. But my 2015 Jeep is about the most stripped down model you can buy. Remember when you had to roll the windows up and down yourself? Well my Patriot is proof they still make such a thing. I also have to actually push the locks down on each door. And to top it off, it’s a 5 speed. It does have heat! And air conditioning! And cruise control! But that’s where the luxuries end. Why? Every extra thing you have on your vehicle will one day stop working and will need to be fixed. So, therefore, it’s less to maintain.
- I grow and preserve much of my own food. This means less money at the grocery store. It does require having a little space to store things though. I couldn’t do this in a tiny house or if I lived out of my back pack. But the pay off is I’m consuming fewer ingredients that I can’t pronounce which means healthier food.
- I also do weird things like bake my own bread.
- I believe in maintaining organization. I love walking into my house after working all day to see clear, clean, uncluttered counter tops. And I want to be able to find things when I need them.
- De-clutter your life by getting rid of things that are not useful, things that are broken, things you haven’t use for a long time but that might be useful to someone else. But I don’t believe in getting rid of things just for the sake of having a few number of items.
- I do keep a stash of things in case of emergencies although I would not call myself a “Prepper”. I think it’s okay to be prepared for those events that are most likely to happen where you live.
- I recycle and reuse items that many people wouldn’t think of.
- I have a TV but I canceled the cable. Only basic channels. TV is a huge time waster.
- I think before I buy something. Every item you bring into your home has to be dealt with in some manner. So it needs to be worth it weight or bring something positive in my life to take up space in my house.
- I’m also big on maintaining what I own so I don’t have to replace things any more often than necessary.
- I believe in the importance of uncluttering not only material possessions, but even more importantly, unclutter our minds by meditation, prayer, music, or anything that brings positive internal thoughts and feelings.
- And last but not least, what other people think of me is none of my business. I believe that is self explanatory.
Having said all this, I really do think I could call myself a minimalist. One who thinks before I consume. A minimalist in moderation. I have my little pleasures. There’s never a shortage of wine in my house. I have more essential oils than most but they are indeed “essential” to me. My storeroom still contains more than it should. I’m working on that little by little. At least it’s contained to the storeroom and not my entire house. And most of it is garden produce and/or supplies which get used throughout the year.
Every time I clean out closets, I wonder how I could have accumulated all the things I find when I really don’t spend much time shopping. It happens. But I take action to keep it under control. Since my house is fairly small, I have to stay on top of the clutter because I really do hate clutter.
And, after all, who wants to be confined to 150 square feet with another person? No matter now much you love them, you’re bound to get on each others nerves from time to time. Everyone needs personal space once in a while. I feel I have a happy medium here.
Of course if you’ve ever had children, personal space and clutter are brought to a whole new dimension. But not one I’m going to tackle today.
For today, I’m happy to be a “sort of” minimalist.
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