Saturday, April 14, 2018

A Little Too Minimal

In my zeal to really explore minimalism, I joined a bunch of facebook groups related to the topics of minimalism, simplicity and anti-consumerism. At first, I found it very helpful and motivating. And then, something shifted. I am still committed to being frugal, and less consumeristic, and trying to tread more lightly on the earth. But good grief! My feed became absolutely clogged with photos of houses purged to the point of barrenness, with people asking if it was still too cluttered with one chair and a side table. Others would weigh in - yes! get rid of the side table and use the window sill instead! I knew without even posting a photo of my bedroom that they'd object to my having dressers and that having a few things on them would be an additional sin. We won't even talk about that small stack of books waiting to be read. And it wasn't just about furnishings. There were frequent photos by people proudly showing off their empty refrigerators. Well, honestly, what is the point of having a refrigerator if not to hold food? And tips on how to feed a family of five for a month on soup beans and leftover vegetables or lauding the benefits of family cloth. What's family cloth, you ask? I'm not sure you really want to know but since I had to read about it, so do you: it's the practice of replacing toilet paper with bits of cloth you can wash and re-use. You read that correctly. Sorry you asked, aren't you? And when you're done gagging, we can resume....

Post after post about aspects of your life that could be minimalized (a word I have come to loathe): Hair - shave it off! Flatware - only have sporks! Color - paint everything white! Beds - put a mattress on the floor! Shoes - flip flops every day! Wedding rings - get a tattoo instead! Coffee - give it up! And for each of those, the chorus of folks countering that even those suggestions weren't minimal enough. It all just started making me twitchy. Listen, I am keeping my hair, I'm not eating soup with a freaking spork, I like having my mattress on a bed frame, I can't wear flip flops to work, I adore my Celtic wedding ring, and I want my damn coffee every morning!

There were rants about using dryers. Rants about television. Rants about wasting money on wine. Rants about the evils of having children. And oh, the challenges:  How few dishes can you get by with? Who has the fewest books? What is the least amount of money you can spend on travel? Is there a single product you can get away with for washing hair, body and dishes? Or better yet, can you eliminate soap entirely from your life? But I knew I had met the limits of my tolerance when I read a post asking people to list the number of clothing items they owned and then the comments of people bragging about how they were able to get by with 22 or 10 or 7 items of clothing. I could no longer rein in the snark. I commented, "One. A single pair of footie pajamas that I wash in rainwater I collect from the downspout and then hang to dry overnight while I sleep naked on the bare wood floor."

Clearly, it was time for me to get out. So I "minimalized" my facebook groups. I stayed in some that are more about simplicity and left the others. It helps me to have some contact with like-minded people who lean toward mindfulness and "cozy minimalism." But I am just not made for the spartan life. Hygge, anyone?

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