Recently I've been paying awfully close attention to the blogging minimalists of the world — Leo Babauta, a father of six with deep insights on minimalism as a true way of life rather than just a style; and Joshua Becker, a recent convert seeking a rational approach to minimalism. After donating more than half my closet, refusing to buy a new laptop after my Mac died, and even forgoing the microwave (Have I impressed you yet?), I've hit a low point.
What happened, you ask? Did I get too inside my head, diving into demise despite my empty closet, counters and drawers? No. Did I revert back to this constant unnecessary "need" to go buy new dresses and shoes? Nope. What did happen, however, was this: I gave away my robe.
It's not so much about the robe, even. I can live without a robe. I'll have to dress before I sit down to drink my coffee in the morning (due to open windows and really close neighbors), and on wintry mornings I'll have to bear a chill in between waking up, eating, and getting dressed, but I'll survive. The bad thing about my decision was that I actually used the robe every day. It isn't bad to have things — that's one of the most important lessons I've learned from downsizing and beginning my quest towards a minimal lifestyle. It's bad to have things that just lay around your house, accumulating dust and creating clutter. It's bad to have the urge to simply buy something new, even though you have no real need. It's bad to place more value in the items we own than in our own health, family, and God. I still own items that I don't use regularly, but my favorite, very well-used, fluffy robe is on a Goodwill hanger somewhere in West Trenton.
To recap: It's bad to be attached to things. Use things. But don't be so obsessed with either — having or not having — that you forego what is right for you.
So, aspiring and practicing minimalists, let's remember what this whole lifestyle is really about. It's about freedom. Freedom from all the stuff that clogs your world, inhibiting you from celebrating the true joys in life. Like a red sunrise. The summer's first firefly. Cuddling with your loved ones. The peace of prayer. But if you happen to have, say, a robe or a pair of rain boots that you actually use regularly, for goodness sake, keep it!