June 14, 2017

Discovering Minimalism

How a simple idea can inspire a world of positive change.

If you were to step through the door of my small studio apartment now, though it may not be immediately apparent, the signs are there of change. I never had an abundance of things before, but I certainly have fewer things now, and it feels good, it feels right. The signs start in the wardrobe, a large portion of the original contents of which is probably newly hung up in the YMCA store just down the road. It’s a consistent feeling of freedom and purpose to rid yourself of clutter. But the beauty is that it’s so much more than simply tidying up and getting rid of stuff.

As soon as I’d finished watching Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, I was hooked. There was something so genuine about these two guys and the true stories and priceless wisdom they were imparting throughout, that I immediately sensed the importance of it all; I felt that buzz that comes about from being newly inspired by something truly great. Of course, as soon as I was done with the documentary, I had to seek out anything else they had produced, and I was happy to discover their first book, Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life, which I wasted no time in devouring (this book, while I waited for their other books to be delivered, I soon donated to our office’s mini library; and I can’t wait for others to read it). Minimalism is maybe something that always resonated with me deep down, but required that spark of inspiration and clarity of perspective to be awoken in me. I’m reminded of two of my favorite ancient Greek aphorisms, famously inscribed in stone at Delphi:

  1. Nothing in excess.
  2. Know thyself.

Though the changes I’ve made to my own life recently are relatively minor, the effect of those changes on my general happiness and sense of productiveness and meaningfulness have been considerable. Everything from keeping a more watchful eye on my diet (limiting myself with alcohol, not eating anything packaged etc.) to sticking to a routine of exercise (at least two or three days in the gym weekly). Though I still have to work on my discipline in these areas, the point is that now I’m thinking about these things. There are other areas I’ve learned to be mindful of: the role I play in my relationships; cultivating my passions; and contributing more to the world. I feel I have a lot to learn but I’ve already come so far in so little time. It’s a great feeling to know you’re on the right path.

And now that I’m on it, what do I hear? I hear the silence won back from a lifetime of conditioned noise: the washer is put to task to spin my only set of sheets; birds perched and on wing communicate the clear morning; and these fingers attempt once again to tap into the essence of it all. What do I see? I see space reclaimed, populated with intentional objects, each more meaningful and available in their small, controlled numbers. Now that I’m on this path, I have the space and time in place and mind to clearly question my everyday actions; to evaluate, realign, and continue.

Published by Sam Howell in Lifestyle

Photography by Breather

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