“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” Attributed to Albert Einstein.
A long time ago I made peace with my full, cluttered life.
But my life did not always looked so cluttered.
By my 19th birthday, I became a forced minimalist. After getting married to a gorgeous American boy, my family, back in Mexico, decided that it would be too impractical for me to bring my belongings to the States, so they sold them or gave them away.
My husband also didn’t have much (although he did show the first signs of keeping random "stuff"). We were both young, so all we had fit neatly into three boxes. We didn’t want much either. I mean, after all, we had each other. And as cliché as it sounds, it was enough.
During the first years of our marriage, we were a "minimalist family", often moving with the help of some friends and their pickup trucks.
But over time, things changed. I first noticed it when our friends and family became less enthusiastic about helping us move. Our family of three became a family of four and we bought our first home. And eventually we got a van.
We had, for the first time in a long time, an opportunity to grow roots. We had a garage that began keeping our belongings, our hobbies, and the things that represented who we were becoming and wanted to become (i.e. yard things, beachy things, play things, book things, music things, etc.). We didn’t always have to give things away; we could keep them. That included books from our college days, and "what nots" (a huge category/randomness that characterizes the personality of our family).
The opposite of minimalist is a hoarder. We now fall somewhere in between.
Some of what I read began resonating with me.
For me, it wasn’t about painting my walls white or giving up our eclectic style (the hammock in my living room), but about living intentionally.
Beyond clearing space in my closets, it became more about thinking of the things I was adding to it and about questioning our impulses. Thinking about the things that mattered to us and the systems that could allow us to live with purpose, to live out our mission. It also became about recognizing that we were living with far more than our fair share.
We are far from simple, purposeful or intentional as I would like us to be. It's hard when the new iPhone comes out or when it's time to buy a new car. In our messy and full lives, I want our family to reflect creativity, and not the gluttony of having it all for ourselves, a feat that was easier when we had less stuff to worry about.
I don’t want us to be the family that keeps on keeping up with the Jones’, but rather the family that reaches out to their neighbor where their need might lay.
Are you a minimalist?
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