We have made it 2 weeks, and it's been amazing seeing just how much stuff we've been able to say goodbye to. And while this is the halfway point, time-wise, we're not even a quarter of the way through all of the items we'll be getting rid of. The cumulative celeration chart shows exactly how many things have gone, and the trend that is leveling off. What the graph doesn't show is just how good it has felt to get rid of these possessions, and to revisit some possessions that are really worth keeping. The scientist in me (more-so, Dan) still demands some objective way to measure the impact of this project, other than just number of items gone, which has led to the questions:
As I have been posting and researching for this minimalist project, creepy Google has been providing me with stories about others’ minimalist journeys, many of which are very different from our own. The stories make me wonder if any two people have the same answer to what minimalism is really about.
Gweneth Patrow’s NY penthouse suite:
The other day, a story about Gweneth Paltrow came up. It said, “Gweneth Paltrow’s NY penthouse suite is a minimalist’s dream!” The title seemed a bit of an oxymoron to me, but I took a look. It was a large penthouse that looked like a magazine cover. The entire penthouse was white or off-white and there was maybe one item on each surface. It was pristine – actually, sterile might be a better word to describe it.
The dream house for show:
There is a clip in the documentary, Minimalism, with the author of Clutterfree with Kids. I have not read this book, but the images of this house made it look like minimalism means having NOTHING. They were standing a large “American Dream” home, but there was nothing in it from what the viewer could see. It actually looked like the family had just walked into a brand new home and the mother was signing the mortgage papers on the counter.
You can catch a glimpse of what we are talking about at minute 2 in this video trailer.
I’m not sharing these stories to say that these are poor representations of minimalism. Gweneth Paltrow is probably an accurate representation of minimalism from the rich and famous standpoint. Of course, when you show that to the average American, it looks lavish and probably inspires many people to go buy more things to copy that lifestyle. And, the family living in the empty house may just like to have their own organizational system where everything is put away. Maybe having a house that looks like a display home makes them happy.
But talking to people outside of these extremes shows that to live a ‘minimalist’ lifestyle, you don’t HAVE to live in a home that looks up for sale, or a home that is all white. You don’t HAVE to sell 90% of everything you own. There is no one "right" way to do it.
I think the point of living a minimalist lifestyle is to eliminate things that don’t fulfill you and keep things that do, in a way that adds to your happiness. It also doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ever buy anything. But rather, make thoughtful decisions about the things you buy. Think about whether you are buying the item because some advertisement told you to or whether you are buying it because it will bring fulfillment and joy to you.
And this isn't an easy thing to do. The other day a coupon and advertisement for home goods came in the mail, and I immediately started dreaming about owning the backyard furniture it displayed. But I did not desire any of this before the advertisement came. It would have been very tempting to go out and buy those things...if I had a back yard...
My reminder as we head into week 3 is that it is not about having as few things as possible. It is about re-evaluating the value that each item brings to you. Keep what makes you happy. And as far as measuring the outcomes or impact of this project, for now, happiness will just have to do.
Here is our day 15. Sushi accessories we don't use. Don't worry there are still plenty of sushi tools that are staying...and being used to make some sushi tonight!