I have been pondering a bit on that same subject of minimalism. While I am not a true minimalist (I have things in my life that go beyond the practical - like sparkly bracelets, for example, and I don't think true minimalists have sparkly bracelets. They have like...a tattoo of a bracelet or none at all.), I do relish, enjoy and agree with the tenets of minimalism. I suppose if there were a spectrum of hoarding/consumerism on one side and minimalism on the other, I'd like to place myself 75% towards minimalistic.
Here's why - as part of my whole philosophy on organization and life, I believe that you either own your stuff or it owns you. I have worked with a lot of hoarders in the past and the problem isn't a physical one (well, it is - they risk their lives as they walk down their hallways of towering boxes and junk and can't sleep on the other side of their beds because their pile of clothing might wake up and attack them or their cat is living in it). It is completely a mental issue. Even if - EVEN IF - you were to go in with a team of expert organizers for five days straight and fill seventeen dumpsters of utter crapola, if you left this suffering person to themselves without helping what's behind it mentally, you could walk back in in 90 days and find things were how they were before you cleaned it all up.
This, I think, has two sources. The first source comes out of the philosophy of what happened during the Great Depression. Everything that could have a possible use was saved, from scraps to cardboard to only partway rusty nails and the rest. People didn't know if they would be able to make it and so they scrimped beyond what was normal up to that point in history. The adults and children of this generation had their lives severely changed and molded because of this traumatic experience. They had children and some passed on that "save" mentality.
This coincided with the second source - the birth of ultra-consumerism. In the 1950's, people lived with a lot less than what we do now. I have personal proof of this in my house. Our house was built in the early 1950's. It is about 950 square feet and the closets are 36" - 44" across. There is no pantry. In this neighborhood, pretty much everyone has 3 bedrooms: one for the parents, one for the boy children, and one for the girl children. The amount of children could be 3, 6, or 10. Some people slept in beds with their siblings. And those 3 children in one room SHARED that 36" closet.
If that were a situation someone had to be put into now, they'd cry out as if they were being tormented and abused. Where on EARTH would they put their laptops, ipods, fifteen pairs of jeans and 300 articles of clothing!?
As the decades chugged on, house sizes got markedly bigger. The average house size for homes built in the 60's was much larger than those built in the 50's; the 70's showed averages larger than the 60's; the 80's continued the pattern and it increases until today. Why? Were people just turning into giants and they needed more room? (Well...some were getting a bit fatter, but that's not the why, I don't think.) No. People wanted to jump onto the bigger, faster, more bandwagon that they bought into as they watched their new favorite family member, the TV, and the commercials therein. There was no cause to scrimp - people in the United States were not living in a war time (men did go off to war, but that's the thing, they left and war wasn't here and present around us, so those who stayed back, although affected somewhat, were not as affected as let's say those who lived in London in the times of the air raids.).
Then the fish tank thing happened. You know how fish grow in proportion to the size of their tanks? Yeah, well, that was people and their homes. They got a larger home and they filled it up to the top until they decided they needed more room and built a larger house and moved in and filled it up too.
I had a client once who, after I asked him what he would do if he started noticing he had too many things in his house to live comfortably said, "Oh, that's no problem, I usually just build another storage facility." SUPERB. Yes, great. Pay money to build storage and house your stuff. I might say that somewhat owned him rather than the other way around.
So this brings me to yesterday. Ever since I wrote the post about the minimalist dude, I have been purging my house like a madwoman. I attacked the basement, the kid closets, my own closet, the hallway closet and the linen closet. 3 giant black garbage bags filled with crapola are gone. There was something else that was nagging me in the back of my head, though. There was this pit, this black hole...and it was so prolific and there were...socks...climbing out of it.
It was my dear husband's dresser. He has a thing for socks. I left him to himself in this area and I've never purged this for him in our entire life together.
Oh he did not like this, not one little bit. I was on a tornado-ish path throughout the house and when this little lightbulb went off for this area, it seemed as if I had hit the jackpot of purging. It seemed as if I had struck gold. The joy of purging these depths filled me with excited estatic joy! It filled my husband with tiredness and dread.
But being the lovely he is, he succumbed to my torture. I dove in. I began pulling out sock by sock by sock. I counted them and piled them on the top of the dresser. I began hysterical laughter as I got to 50...then 60...then SEVENTY (?!) and finally we toppled over everything and found the last pair, #83. And a half. (One of the little guys didn't have a partner.)
Those socks had a death grip on him, though. He wanted to keep this one because what was wrong with it, it was perfectly fine! This one was soft and you can't get rid of a soft sock! What if this other one gets a hole? Are you going to get rid of this other one that could be a backup?
*cough* sock hoarder *cough* *cough*
Now wait just a minute. You may think, "Oh, what a naughty boy!" If you do, I challenge you to go count your socks, or articles of clothing you've saved since you were a freshman in college. Unless you are a minimalist, you have no room to talk and if you talk smack on my hubby, I got his back and you betta check yo-self befo' you wreck yo-self!! (I'm the only one allowed to call him a sock hoarder. You know the drill. You can mess with your bro, but if someone else does, they're gonna get it.) Ahem. Yes. All I'm saying is, don't diss.
This example is to bring to light for you a possible area you may have neglected over the years. Are you a sock lover? Do you just rue the day that anyone suggest to you that you throw away a book? Do you keep CDs like you're hoping you'll one day DJ a frat party? Are you saving that entire half-wardrobe of clothes that "might fit one day once I lose x pounds"? Get real with yourself. You AIN'T gonna wear those, baby. By the time you lose your weight, you'd rather go to Salvation Army and wear those than your hoochie mama mini-skirt you flaunted to the club when you were 19.
So get going. What has a hold on you? Don't let it own you. Purge, baby. I don't want to picture you as you crouch over your crapola wide-eyed whispering, "My preciouses..." Yeah. Go on, Schmigle. You can do it.
Be the boss of your stuff. It shouldn't control you. Fight ultra-consumerism. Live right, live simply.
Peace, love and go fill up a garbage bag (or twenty),