It’s that time of year again, when the temperature leaps from -4 degrees celsius to 20 in the space of a few days. The cherry blossoms burst open in all their pink loveliness and that North Face puffa jacket that has been like a second skin over the past few months gets tossed into the back of the closet.
And then the Monica Geller-worthy cleaning frenzy starts, with old clothes and random bits and pieces finding their way to the ‘charity clothing bin’ across the street, which means they’ll end up in a clothing market in Uganda.
Luckily, I don’t have much to clean or get rid off. Material things have never been important to me and don’t gel well with my nomadic lifestyle. I’ve never had my own car or TV. I have fewer clothes and lady-things than most middle-class women. I have an old MacBook and a decent SLR camera. I have a lot of books and have traveled more than the average bear.
Most expats/migrant workers who live in big Asian cities get used to living in rabbit warrens. Unless you work for the government and/or military, you won’t have a garden, yard, and in many cases, an actual bedroom. You may get lucky as I did and score a balcony. The upshot is that you realize you can live comfortably in a small space and all the money you save by being able to live in a Tiny House (they’re a thing, see image above) when you repatriate, you can spend elsewhere.
And thus, I hereby declare my membership to the growing Minimalist movement (yes, also a thing). I came across this concept when I read about The Minimalists – basically two rich, white dudes who wanted to break the cycle of working hard and spending harder. They started to understand the relationship between time and money. They began to realize that maybe happiness doesn’t lie in working 80 hours a week in order to have all the latest gadgets. Revolutionary, I know. Having built their new lives around this movement, they’ve thought long and hard (they now have the time) about what is entails. In their own words:
At first glance, people might think the point of minimalism is only to get rid of material possessions. Eliminating. Jettisoning. Extracting. Detaching. Decluttering. Paring down. Letting go. But that’s a mistake.
True, removing the excess is an important part of the recipe. But it’s just one ingredient. If we’re concerned solely with the stuff, then we’re missing the larger point.
Minimalists don’t focus on having less, less, less. Rather, we focus on making room for more: more time, more passion, more experiences, more growth and contribution and contentment. More freedom. It just so happens that clearing the clutter from life’s path helps us make that room.
Minimalism is the thing that gets us past the things so we can make room for life’s important things—which actually aren’t things at all.
So, as life as we know it hurls towards disaster (we consume too much, we work too much, we destroy the planet far too much), wouldn’t it be nice if everyone in the privileged, developed countries turned over a new leaf?