Minimalism is a Commodity

And we’re buying into it again and again at an exorbitant price.

The minimalism movement has been around for a while now. It’s not hard to see why it came about. We live in a time where we are consuming more than the human race has ever consumed before. We are chowing through new personal belongings daily. And eventually someone, or several someones, decided enough is enough, our lives are full of clutter and the more we own the more stressed we get.

The solution? A return to simpler living through:

  • Cutting down personal belongings ( Does this bring me joy? No? Gone!)
  • Organising home clutter
  • Purchasing more expensive, better quality products that last longer.

Sounds great in theory doesn’t it? But the problem is we’ve been sold on another lifestyle ideal and it’s emptying our pockets and topping up our stress bucket.

John and Beth

Now, I don’t know if anyone else has noticed this, but the minimalism movement has become another thing to purchase and keep up to date with. It has become the very thing its values suggest we need to move away from. I believe it is our obsession with comparison, image and consumption that has shifted something, which was intended to mark a behavioural shift, back into our comfort zone where our learned behaviours lie.

This realisation hit me when I contemplated what it could mean to live more simply during the COVID crisis. How, with all the distraction of outings and events removed, could I focus on simply being? How can I really strive to live more grounded and connected with my family and nature now that there are less lights to dazzle me?

John and Beth 2

I love the ideal behind the minimalism movement. I am incredibly guilty of getting caught up in the clutter and adding what I desire, not what I need, to everything I already own. But the problem with striving for this simpler lifestyle now is you are told there are possessions you need to acquire in order to live it.

This seems counter-intuitive right? And that is my bugbear.

I have found myself stuck comparing my pantry’s level of organisation with Miss Instagram’s pantry organisation, resulting in increasing feelings of  inadequacy, jealousy and the need to purchase more boxes from Kmart! (A truly 21st Century conflict).

I have been told (through clever marketing tactics) that my child’s playroom should not be a chaotic mishmash of coloured toys, but rather a purposefully structured play space filled with open-ended toys, made from solid wood that will last for years to come. Yes, it’s a beautiful picture, but why does a return to simpler, less flashy toys cost me $150 for a rattan doll’s highchair or $295 for a climbing triangle? (If you don’t believe me look these things up these are real prices). It seems to me that the cost of a “simple” playroom will put me in great debt.

I am also led to believe that no matter how tidy my house is it will never be minimalist or calming enough unless my furniture is in almost all neutral tones and my house presents a timeless look (whatever that is because all looks are going to date whether you think they will or not). Of course, this requires some renovations on my part. A task that is by no means simple or minimal. And once again, a lot of cold hard cash.

The more I explore it the more I find that the cost of chasing a simple, minimalist lifestyle is incredibly prohibitive for the every day person.

As beautiful as these items are, and as much as I get sucked in by them, this is not the simple, minimal lifestyle I want.

John and Beth 3

I want a life made simple in moments.

Simple drawings with my daughter, not the neat lines of a designer dresser.

Simple in the mess of a kitchen with overflowing dishes, the smell of a cake in the oven and a wash in our dated bathtub because someone wanted to lick the spoon.

Simple in the amusement of stacking plastic cups and not worrying about the fact they’re not aesthetically pleasing bamboo utensils in muted hues.

Simple in the photos of my smiling family that don’t look picture perfect because I was too busy enjoying the moment than to edit the image with a pricey filter while they waited for me.

If you want to live simply. Do it. Live simply.

There is no product that you need. There is no podcast or book that will tell you truly how. I am not an expert. I am just someone on the journey, learning what it means to live a little simpler and by consequence I hope to find my days freer and fuller at the same time.

Beth

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