Since first writing this post I have been less inclined to prompt conversations about our simpler lifestyle. I have also changed the manner in which I engage in such conversations. I find that semantics play a big role in how labels are attached as there seems to be less judgment and more curiosity by replacing the word ‘minimal’ with ‘simpler’.
“To live in accordance with how one thinks. Be yourself and don’t try to impose your criteria on the rest. I don’t expect others to live like me. I want to respect people’s freedom, but I defend my freedom. And that comes with the courage to say what you think, even if sometimes others don’t share those views.” Pepe Mujita – the Minimalist President
Brisbane, June 2016
Through my quest for information, I found a common trend from the words of outspoken minimalists. I was warned that by promoting my path towards simplicity, but mostly by calling myself a minimalist, I would be opening myself to mockery and accusations of how maximalist I really was.
Like in so many other matters, they were right: “You still own enough clothing for 2 weeks? That’s not a minimalist wardrobe”; “Living in a 3 bedroom house? How is that minimalist?”; “Moving to a house with a pool? Not very minimalist of you”; “You own a car/TV/iPad? How can you call yourself a minimalist?”; “You actually buy stuff? Tell me how is that being minimalist?”
Apart from good-humoured friendly provocations, I see such comments as a projection of individual dissatisfactions. On the other hand, ironically (and defensively or not), everyone claims to already being a minimalist.
It’s entirely my fault for promoting this lifestyle at every chance I got. I have experienced such good results because of it that I felt urged to share. I had to let everyone see. Why wouldn’t they see? Why wasn’t everyone aware of this? I see now that I might have sounded like a religious fanatic (Cat did tell me so a couple of times) – though the main difference to religion is that the tangible outcomes of Minimalism come from the action one takes, not blind belief.
When exposing myself in a context that outlines personal growth (especially in the ambiguous area of happiness and life purpose), there is usually a defensive reaction because this intimate disclosure can be interpreted as an attack on the other – it’s as if the receiver is hearing a comparison and that compels to justifying personal circumstances, conditioning and achievements.
This is not in a race. This is my life and I am not comparing. The way I’m choosing to live it is being deliberately exposed to promote personal growth, increase its quality and meaningfulness, and hopefully, bring value to others.
It is not easy to semi-publicly write about some subjects. Exposing intimate affairs summons vulnerability and discomfort. At the same time, that is one of the reasons why I do it.
It is inevitable that all self-imposed labels become subject to inexorable scrutiny and the target of disproving exercises. Well, I am a minimalist. This claim is founded on my actions not just my words. No doubt there’s still an immense way to go, and your challenges to my self-labelling will surely help me get there. In the meantime, I have indeed been ‘walking the talk’.
I know I’ll keep talking about minimalism and its enormous virtues when circumstances are propitious. But my actions have sparked far more interest than any preaching I have done. Example is indeed the best way to pass a message across.