So you’re a minimalist.
You’ve given up everything but a mug, 2 cups, 2 plates, 2 sets of cutlery, a futon on the floor, a TV, 25 pieces of your wardrobe including shoes and bags and a laptop.*
*Note: This is not me. I have more than 100 things. More than 5000, I’d wager.
Charlie (one of the most honest bloggers I’ve come across, who manages to seamlessly weave philosophy into his writings coupled with many grumpy rants that I can relate to) talked about Leo Babuta talking about the criticism of minimalism as a movement, and asked the most important question:
What happens after minimalism?
What I will say is that Leo needs to address the real issue in this debate. I call it “post-minimalist emptiness.”
What happens when you make it your purpose to eliminate the non-essential from your life and you have achieved it?
What do you do after that?
This is the question people are asking. Leo is like Moses. He has gotten us out of Egypt, but here we are in the wilderness. What happens next?
SO, WHAT NOW?
I wouldn’t say I’ve reached my own ideals of what minimalism is, because I don’t have any set ideals.
I never became a ‘minimalist’ because I wanted to join some movement, be a hipster outcast and revel in “screwing The Man”.
I just.. didn’t want to travel with so much stuff. I also saw a benefit in spending less money (that means more savings!) and I could see what kind of freedom and security could be achieved from having more money and less stuff.
I am also pleasantly on the path to not care so much about what people think about me. I was really into trying to be a people-pleaser when I was younger.
I am noticing that I care less about saying what I think and feel, and wondering if people think I’m weird or wrong and that’s always a good thing.
NO CHECKLIST OF MINIMALIST CHALLENGES FOR ME!
Some people think to be a minimalist, you have to try one or all of the following:
- Not cutting down my things to even 500 items — You’re kidding, right? Have you seen my laptop and hard drive collection? Or how about my clothes and shoes?
- Not going on another shopping ban — I only did it for 2010 because I was curious about testing my willpower. Now that I’ve done it, I know I can do it again, which gives me great personal satisfaction.
- Not getting rid of my car – Er… not really possible, but I do try to drive less. For the months of February, March and April, I haven’t once driven my car. I’ve only sparked it a bit to keep the battery alive.
- Not going vegan or vegetarian completely – Also not in the cards for me, but I am finding and making more vegan/vegetarian recipes BF & I enjoy making and eating (like chickpea and potato cakes!)
- Not going ‘off the grid’ and to become a full-time blogger or writer — It’s a hobby, not a job. It has the same amount of work and hours as a part-time job, but it doesn’t pay as well as my day job
- Not chasing e-book fame – That gives me the sweats. I’d have to show my face, do interviews, promote myself.. ugh. And what would I write about that I don’t already have on my blog?
- Not deciding to move to an island or Third World country to live as an ascetic priestess – I like urban cities, and I enjoy having stuff. I don’t want to give it all up unless in the future I see a real purpose for it. For now, no.
- Not moving to a farm – I would however, like to start growing my own herbs indoors and perhaps some tomatoes. Anything that can be done as an Apartment-Dweller.
- Not going to build my own tiny house — Although I am intrigued by the idea, I don’t like being rooted to any one spot, and ultimately I don’t plan on staying in one country forever. I want to keep my options open.
- Not going to live with just a laptop and a mug — I’m not a fan of couch surfing or being a moocher. That doesn’t seem like a rich and fulfilling life for me, especially if I am going to have children.
- Not going to give away all my money out of sheer guilt — I donate regularly to charities, but I don’t feel guilty for having made money. I worked for it.
And so on, and so on.
I think you get the idea.
Post-minimalist (if I ever get there), I will basically follow what Charlie has already said:
Stick with the simplicity. Be frugal in your material life. Eliminate the distractions.
I will continue to do what I am doing now.
Keeping what is essential and getting rid of what is non-essential.
I also want a balance in my life which is part of essential/non-essential (minimalist) thinking.
Like with my job. I love making money and working, but I don’t want to make a lot of money and kill myself working 100-hour stressful but brain-numbing workweeks.
I want a job that covers my essentials and then some, and above all, is interesting work.
Know who understands this as well? Jenny of Minimalism Defined — she gave up an $80,000 job because she didn’t need to make that much money for the price of her sanity and stress.
I turned down an $80,000 job and I was happy.
If it wasn’t for our minimalist lifestyle I would not have had the freedom to say no to a lucrative paying job.
It’s what we didn’t have that gave me the freedom to say no:
- we don’t have credit card debt
- we don’t have a car note – we own one car that is fully paid off that my husband uses for work
- we don’t live a lavish lifestyle
Most importantly we have the security of 8 months worth of expenses saved up that will sustain us until I find the job that feels right to me.
My sanity was far more worth $80,000
Because my husband and I live a simple lifestyle, we have the freedom to control our destiny. I know that there are many people out there that must think I am insane for saying no to this job. But I don’t have the credit card debt, car note payment or lavish lifestyle. I have a sufficient rainy day fund to sustain me until I find the right opportunity. Having the freedom of choice is very liberating to me.
That’s admirable, and exactly my own approach to life.
Besides, I mentioned to her in the comments that it was better she gave it up, so someone else who needed the money would get the job instead.
It’s the right lifestyle for me, and I enjoy getting rid of the non-essentials and having this more relaxed mindset, than always trying to chase after something.
Will I ever reach post-minimalism? I hope not. I am having far too much fun growing and enjoying the journey.
No deadlines, no finish lines, just an endless journey.