“Minimalism”, like “youth”, is a mode, an attitude, and it isn’t defined by a number.
Minimalism applies to our mental space as much as the physical. “Minimalism isn’t traveling the world with nothing”; it’s about being mindful and conscious about what we use, what we do, how we spend our time, who we spend our time with, and what we focus on.
There was a time when tracking the number of things I carried with me was important to me, but that identity is gone. Living nomadically is no longer a goal nor an option, but I still carry the ethos of being aware of what I buy, use, and bring with me throughout my day and life.
Perhaps like most people that have embraced minimalism in their lives, the refocusing of minimalism from things to attitude is practical in nature; I’ve had to redefine it as I take on new responsibilities, new dependents, and the necessity of being responsible for their lives.
Marie Kondo’s book about tidying, decluttering and organizing isn’t about minimalism, but her philosophy about the connection between stuff and joy echoes the worldview. “Does this bring me joy” rings through my head daily, in everything I spend my time on.
Is minimalism is more accessible form of zen? Non-stuff is easier than non-self. We blame the demands of daily work and family life for making zen (and minimalism) unattainable, but the real reason is more raw: fear, ambition, desire, jealousy.
“Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.” Whatever I do, I infuse myself into it. It exposes the fear, jealously, or desire, but it also creates peace, fulfillment, meaning, and joy.
It’s easier to be a minimalist when you’re young, before you’ve been able to accumulate things, biases, societal expectations. Buying a house, starting a family, these things challenge the definition of minimalism but not the ideal. Shift from the state of minimalism to the mode. And enjoy the journey. Onward.