maximalism on mimimalism

January 17, 2020
I've been thinking about minimalism a bit. (And it's a bit nuts to me that I read "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" 5 years ago.)

A friend of mine has took the training to be an official KonMari consultant (if you're in MA and interested in her help in your own stuff simplification, let me know and I'll hook you up!) and I asked her something that was on my mind: that whole "does this spark joy" ritual - is the joy the ends or a mean? (i.e. is getting more joy the pursuit for joy's sake, or is joy a signpost to general rightness-with-the-universe?)

She gave me some good feedback. I'm left thinking that the best answer is a blend - some of the point is so that you are getting more joy out of getting a better balance with your possessions, and having better knowledge and focus about what you like in life.

On the LiM WhatsApp group, someone posted the Guardian on the craze for minimalism. It points out that sometimes an awful lot of work goes behind getting to the point where you can just work with the simple bits. Or as one meme put it:

Damn bitch, are you aware that subscribing to popular minimalism does not free you from the focus on your possessions, but ironically causes you to be come more focused on them than before?

It's like there's minimalism of the "noun" - what stuff looks like at this moment, the elegant sparseness - vs the minimalism of the "verb" - the effort it to took to get to and keep it there. As usual, I think the answer is somewhere in the middle - don't be afraid to have stuff you like around you, but don't be afraid to get rid of whatever isn't pulling its weight, Kondo "joy"-wise. Even with everything you might not get to a Steve Jobs like "lamp and cushion in the middle of the floor" look but that's ok.

The article talks about some of the human cost of our technology, but I think the noun/verb dualism is informative even with a more self-centered view. Isn't wireless great? Bopping around with earbuds, roaming around town with a cellphone or parking yourself anywhere in the house with a laptop? No cords- the noun is so clean! And yet - the bargain is accepting a lifestyle of constantly making sure our gear is charged, and so the verb is less minimal than it was before - more demanding of our time and attention.

A while back (7 years ago... again, yeesh.) Slate wrote a similar piece. My take away then was "minimalism a luxury item for people who can afford to keep their stockpiles at retail stores." and I think that's important to keep in mind as well, especially before we cast stones on people who seem content having more clutter around them.
Thinking more about decluttering... last September I wrote
So much clutter represents artifacts from my aspirational self, what I'd like to do or be given enough time and energy, and throwing that stuff away feels like murder of that future self. Or at least more firmly closing doors of potential that are hanging partially open.
Funny thinking of the balance of that vs the sometimes expensive luxury of keeping your "stockpiles" in stores instead of at home. Especially for gadget fans like me. I keep dreaming of setting up regular times to play old games, either on my own or better yet with friends, the old quarterly casual couch-gaming meetups I'd host. So I have all these old games around. But then there are these old tablets and laptops... I can think of all these scenarios where they might be useful, sort-of. And getting rid of them has an additional cost of making sure they're properly wiped of personal information! But overall that gear leans closer to the packrat/hoarder side, where it's tough to admit how valueless they are likely to forever be from here on out.