This post has been marinating in the back of my mind for a long time—more than a year, in fact.
The thing that inspired me to finally write it was this post by Kate Northrup. She sums up very beautifully that abundance lies in simplicity. I think the only place you’ll ever feel truly abundant is from a place of simplicity, where you can choose the attitude of wanting what you have and therefore having what you want.
This thought originally led me to the path of minimalism. For several months I swallowed up everything I could read about minimalism, about clearing out everything and living with the bare minimum I needed to get on with a happy life.
But there was something about minimalism that didn’t sit well with me through all of my enthusiastic research. One of the themes that stood out to me was many of the people wrote about the desire to travel extensively and unhook themselves from their home, and instead feel at home wherever they happened to be. I came to associate this with the goal of eventually shedding so much stuff that my husband and I would be able to pack our remaining belongings into a small RV and travel the country.
The idea appealed to my inner adventurer, but there was a larger part of me that mourned what I would be giving up if I chose that path, even in a small way. I love to travel and to have new experiences in faraway places, but I feel an even stronger tug in my heart to build a home where I can rest and have equally wonderful experiences in a setting that I’ve created lovingly, down to the last detail.
Now, I know that being a minimalist doesn’t mean that you need to sell your house and hit the road, or that you need to travel extensively in order to be a minimalist. But I bring up this specific aspect because it illustrates a general trend toward disconnection from the ties and personality of home.
As I dabbled in minimalism and explored what it would feel like to purge all but the basics, I constantly ran into this feeling that wasn’t comfortable. A feeling that if I went too far into it, I’d be letting go of a lot of “unnecessary” things that I would actually miss. Like the two tea cups and saucers from my grandma that are sitting on a shelf next to me, serving no purpose other than to sit and look beautiful and remind me of this wonderful person I love who lives 200 miles away.
Turns out there are a lot of things I own that serve the purpose of making my home cozy. Or I love them because they are beautiful, but I don’t think would make the cut if I was using this minimalist definition that was forming in my mind. I value too many things to give them all up and live on just the basics. My stuff matters to me. I choose it carefully, and am always conscious of not being cluttered and wasteful, but it feels wrong to impose extra restrictions on what I own. I want my home to be filled with possessions are an outer representation of my inner world–my personality, relationships, lifestyle and values.
Good old Albie sums it up very nicely for me:
Minimalism would cross over into being too simple for the life I want. Because it’s often just a little extra thing that pushes anything—a meal, a room, an experience—over the edge into luxury and perfection.
In the end, I want simplicity, but not minimalism.
I want exactly what I want—nothing more, nothing less. Is there a word for that?