Do you ever feel as though the whole universe is trying to send you a message? That’s how I felt last month when I bought my Starbucks tumbler. Actually, it all started with… cramps. They were quite bad as per usual and so I left school a bit earlier that day. A week later a friend caught up with me as I was heading to class and told me about a documentary she had seen. According to this documentary, she explained, the reason I was experiencing such gut-twisting pain was my constant exposure to plastic! This was most unfortunate news indeed, as only 15 minutes prior to our chat I had been drinking water out of a plastic bottle. That very morning I had used cosmetics out of plastic containers, and I had brushed my hair with a plastic brush. My life was entirely filled with plastic encounters from morning till dusk.
That afternoon I was at the convenience store to buy another drink, and I decided to grab a bottle of Arizona Green Tea as it always came in a glass bottle. Well, imagine the betrayal I felt when I ripped off the paper packaging they have around the bottle neck and discovered they had changed their bottles from glass to plastic! So I came to the conclusion that the only two options for drinks that didn’t involve non-plastic containers at school would be either buying coffee or buying a tumbler.
So I proceeded by searching to web for non-plastic tumbler options, and I stumbled across a Korean blogger who happened to be a minimalist. She had written a series of posts in which she was trying to reduce the amount of waste she produced. One of these posts had to do with using a tumbler in order to avoid having to use a paper cup that would just go to waste. The blog post caught my eye because that very morning I had also listened to a news report regarding Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, in which the governor of California vowed that regardless of Trump’s decision the state of California would hold to the standards of the Paris climate agreement. This was quite a moving moment for me, because up until that point all I had really done was pointed my finger at Trump and muttered a string of words that I probably should not feature here. Here was one person who was saying, that regardless of what Trump did, he was going to do his bit.
This combination of environmental issues and the series of blog posts lead me to read further into the minimalist lifestyle. At first I walked into the bookstore to find a book about minimalism, but there was something incredibly ironic about buying a book about minimalism when the whole idea behind minimalism is getting rid of stuff. So I walked out of the bookstore empty-handed that day, and borrowed a book about minimalism from my school library instead. Upon reading it however, I thought that the Korean blogger had done a much better job at introducing minimalism, and maybe the reason is that she had been writing about her process in the midst of practicing minimalism. Through her blog I learned that minimalism is about getting rid of the things that aren’t important, so that you can fully appreciate the things that are important. It felt much more personal and emotional than the book that listed off all the reasons you should become a minimalist and how you could get there.
This also reminded me of the books on decluttering by Andrew Mellen and Marie Kondo. Although neither book is about minimalism, both emphasize that an important reason for getting rid of clutter is to better appreciate the things that you actually love or “spark joy.” It seems that this is the exact sentiment behind minimalism, only it gets lost behind the photos of completely empty rooms and the extremists who live with little beyond the bare necessities. I thought to myself, if you only considered the idea of keeping what you actually love and getting rid of the things you don’t need, minimalism is quite achievable… but then I went to London and spent a fortune on rubber stamps and collected all manner of ephemera: ticket stubs, maps, cards, postcards, et cetera, et cetera. I came to the conclusion that I’m no minimalist, but a magpie that delights in collecting things to decorate her nest.
Then am I a maximalist? No, I don’t think so. I think I might have been at one point with cosmetics and art supplies, as I wanted to see for myself what worked best for me and was curious about all the hype for certain products in the beauty blogosphere. However, I have always been very particular about the things I buy, and when I do buy things I tend to do my best to care for them and use them until they are all worn out.
So I have decided that I am neither minimalist nor maximalist. Rather, I like to think of myself as a curator. I like to curate my life. I enjoy fine things with a modern or classic design, and I love to collect things that represent my style and interests. Instead of pursuing a minimalistic life that doesn’t fit my world views, I’ve decided to continue on the path that I’m already on. That’s not to say that minimalism is useless to me, I’ve learned interesting and valuable lessons from minimalism and will most likely read more blog posts on ways different people practice minimalism in their lives. But I would like to think more on this idea of curating your life and share that process with you in future posts.
Your turn ♥ Have you ever considered becoming a minimalist? Why or why not?