Why Less?

February 1, 2013

Yesterday was the last day of January, and thus technically the end our the Simpson Family De-Clutter. In the next few days, I’ll be sharing about the last two days of that process. For today, I wanted to take a bit of time to revisit why we’re doing this. Why do we want to own less stuff? I know that there are minimalists out there who are trying to get others to join the club. That’s not really my goal. In fact, if you visited my house, you might not even guess that we’re trying to be minimalists (especially with the stack of Craigslist and Freecycle stuff in the living room that’s slowly making its way out). We have stuff. We have children who have no interest in minimalism. We homeschool. So, there are school books and art supplies and math manipulatives and . . . . I could go on. I don’t like white walls. Right now, I have no orchids in my house. None of my furniture is modern. In other words, while we want to own less, we are very much still in process, and we’ll never meet the modern sleek minimalist ideal.

We just want to own less so that we can concentrate on what’s most important. How does owning less help with that?

  • It frees up our finances. If we’re not spending on lots of stuff, we can be more generous.
  • It gives us more time for those we care about.
  • It reduces our visual distractions. The less cluttered environment is more peaceful and calming.
  • It decreases the amount of time spent cleaning. Moving around piles. Picking up tchotchkes to dust around.
  • It eliminates the shopping habit as entertainment.
  • It brings white space. Both in our physical environment and in our schedules.
  • The white space helps me to bump into myself. Face my own stuff. Face the future of freedom and promise and possibilities. Make actual decisions instead of letting life come as it will. Deal with the question of what I really want- which is incredibly scary. If we face that question, then we have to make decisions. We have to take responsibility for those choices, which is terrifying and fantastic and life-giving.

So, there you have it. Some of the motivation for our ten-day declutter. Time to get it wrapped up and to get on with the business of living life in 2013.

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5 Responses to “Why Less?”

  1. Denise Says:

    Beautiful, Robin!

  2. Brian Says:

    This post definitely hits home for me. I am in the process of becoming more minimalist, but you wouldn’t know it to look at my apartment. Just like you I have tons of stuff in “To Sell” or “To Give Away” piles. Also, my fiance (although she was never as much of a “stuff person” as I was) is not trying to be minimalist.

    Great post.

    • Robin Johnson Simpson Says:

      Thanks, Brian. It’s definitely a process, isn’t it? I think it’s sticky to tread the minimalist path when those you live with aren’t on board. All my best to you!

  3. Ginna Says:

    This is beautiful, and it’s a direct statement of something that people often don’t know how to describe. Getting rid of stuff is a way of directing life focus/energy (terrifying, like you say!) and adds a lightness to life.

    Last week I took two hours out of my Saturday to take 3 bags of stuff to HousingWorks, a charity that sells thrift items and gives the money to HIV sufferers. It was an incredible relief to get that stuff out of my home.

    One of the best aspects was the feeling of getting some great things back into use! I love the thought that the things I loved and enjoyed — but no longer use — are now being loved and enjoyed by someone else, probably in a completely different way!


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