Minimalism is quite the buzzword in our holistic circles, and with good reason--we do tend to collect a lot of stuff, and sooner or later that stuff begins to own us. But there's something about that word that bothers me. And yes, I know I read personalities into words that are (probably) not there, but minimalism always seems like such a haughty concept, the just-as-caustic flipside of besting your neighbor's television/gadget/luxury automobile. It feels forced, enforced. A competition.
And though I suppose I fall into the minimalist camp, I much prefer the term simplicity. There's something so much kinder in the concept--do I love this thing? Do I use it? Yes? Simple--it stays until it's no longer loved or useful, then it's conscientiously, sustainably given away or recycled. I've said before that I didn't come with a sentimental gene, so that helps with the love it/useful tagging process. But here's the thing--does anyone really need 20 random mugs? Have you ever had 20 people over for tea at the same time? And, if so, how often? Do we need endless sets of sheets, of towels, of clothing in different sizes, of boxes marked 'just in case'?
Obviously, these are such individual decisions, but decisions, I think, it's vital to make. A lovely, non-threatening way to simplify is to put all the things you aren't sure about--the ones that still tug at you but which you haven't used/worn in ages--into a box. Put the box away and wait. A year later--has it been opened? Do you remember what it contains? No? Decision made.
Because, you see, it isn't a competition to see who can end up with the least; it isn't about broadcasting how little you have, using this label or that to prop you up in the larger, harsher world--that's not minimalism, and it's not simplicity. Simplicity is the quiet understanding that, with slow, steady reduction and relabeling, peace, space, and breath have room to roll in.