Sep 25

Moving in Minimalist Style

moving in minimalist styleI may have been born a minimalist. If there’s a minimalist gene, it is deeply embedded in my DNA. I don’t remember when I first became aware of the concept of “less is more”; all I know is I seemed to be cognizant at an early age that having lots of stuff was a burden.

Back in the 60s and 70s when I was growing up, the word or even the concept of minimalism as it refers to a way of life had not made its way into general consciousness, although throughout the ages there certainly have been individuals and groups who embraced the concept in some form. (Henry David Thoreau comes to mind, especially in his book, Walden, one of my favorite books of all time.)

Before I talk about moving in minimalist style, it’s important to understand what minimalism is.

Minimalism in a nutshell

According to Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, who might be called the gurus of minimalism and who write about (and live) the philosophy, “Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.” It’s about living a purposeful life, one that is physically, emotionally, and spiritually fulfilling.

Let’s focus on the word “freedom” for a moment. Joshua and Ryan explain that “Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.”

In other words, it’s about living simply and following your own path. As minimalist Leo Babauta explains, “It’s about finding simplicity and finding what’s important to you, and making choices, rather than adopting the consumerist mindset that most people have.”

Adopting a minimalist lifestyle is highly individual. For some people, living a minimalist lifestyle means owning as little as possible and using their resources to travel. For others it means not wanting to own a car or a home (or the payments that go with them). Some may own the latest high-tech equipment because they need it for their work yet choose to purchase most of their other needs at thrift stores.

Moving in minimalism style

Now, back to moving in minimalist style. As I prepare to move across the country once again (I’ve done this four times previously), I am doing my usual routine: giving away whatever won’t fit in my little hatchback (plus my life-partner’s car) and hitting the road. That boils down to two cat carriers (for Jobim and Abby), my computers, some clothes (thrift store finds!), and a few household items.

Actually, this inventory exceeds what I moved with during my first transnational move back in the late 80’s. At that time, I boarded a plane with one cat, my computer, and two suitcases of clothing (still thrift store). A subsequent cross country move more than a decade later had me down to two suitcases and a computer (kitty had passed on). Then two more one thousand-plus mile moves within a few year’s time again each involved giving away furniture and other items, packing up the car, and moving on.

moving in minimalist styleI know many people who live with garages and attics crowded with stuff, stuff they packed up, moved, and paid dearly for in terms of money, time, and effort, just to have it sit gathering dust. I know others who have put furniture and household good into storage for years, watching the money drain out of their account every month, paying far in excess the value of those items. Then there are those who put themselves into debt (financially, emotionally, and spiritually) to furnish their homes with expensive furniture, buy bigger cars, fill their closets with yet more clothes and shoes, or own the latest bling.

If any or all of these things truly make these individuals content, fulfilled, and free at their core, then that’s great. Somehow, however, I doubt it. At least I have not seen it to be the case.

Minimalism could be a rail against the controlling elite who work tirelessly to convince us we need more, bigger, whiter, brighter, faster, stronger, or fancier or we are insignificant, worthless human beings. It is a stand against being corralled into a personal prison and being stripped of our individualism.

So I am walking away yet again from a domicile where I loved and laughed and worked and played, and I am moving on with a few important items. Some people I know have asked me how I do it, and I say it’s simple (in more ways than one). A few have said they envy me; that they are tired of having so much stuff they don’t ever look at or need. One or two have expressed concern that their children will be left with tons of stuff to dispose of after they are dead.

All I can say is, don’t be envious or tired or concerned; just try it.

I believe having too much stuff is a burden—certainly while we are alive, and even after we are gone. Holding on to and accumulating things can restrict our freedom in so many ways. That’s why I live the way I do. That’s why I am moving in minimalist style.

Deborah says:

I can only hope I do so in maximum style!