Walking into our home, “minimalist” would not be the first term used to describe the space. Our walls are not empty, our closets hold more than one item, and the most prominent piece of furniture in two of our three rooms is a bookshelf which houses all of its contents only on rare occasions. As much as I would like to claim otherwise, we have clutter. And many, many more items than we need to live well. Yet I claim the term minimalist with adamance.
This is because minimalism is not about the number of items we own or whether we love each item we own. It’s not about items at all, in fact. Certainly there was great value in down-sizing and making our home and life flow smoothly with fewer items stealing time and attention. But there is a danger of getting caught in the process. Of endlessly needing to remove one more item or declutter one more area. As if a magical, cosmic balance is achieved by owning a specific combination of beautiful things. Things, unlike people, only have the value that we assign to them.
Grounding the process in that simple truth turned a useful tool into a powerful vehicle for change. It made me see that all of the enchanting toys in the world would never bring the same joy as ten minutes of my undivided attention discussing the importance of a leaf. I realized that the wedding dress hanging in my closet didn’t tell the important story of my marriage. That tale is better told by evenings curled up together pouring over maps. Or late nights lost in foreign cities, building a life we take pride in. It turned a lifelong habit of clutter clearing into a sustained, intentional choice to live simply because it enables me to choose a life I value.