Minimalism is not the end goal

I finished reading the Stuffocation book last week and there were a few things that stuck out to me.

The most important is that minimalism isn’t the end goal. Rather, it’s an enabler for the life I want to live. Admittedly, when I first started this journey, my goal was to have the least amount of things possible. I would worry about the clothes that I should/could throw out or donate. I would obsess about the number of shoes I had in my closet.

A lot of the books I’d read focused on the throwing-away part. But this book really stressed the importance of striking a balance. It’s not a contest about having the least amount of stuff — it’s about finding that state where I have enough, but not excess. It shouldn’t be a fixation on decreasing the number of things that I own — which I’ve been guilty of — but the focus should be on spending my time wisely (of which throwing away stuff can be a contributor since it frees up a lot of time… but it shouldn’t be the end goal, see?). After all, what’s the point of having all this free time to myself, only to squander it on mindless online surfing?

The book talked about breaking the hold that stuff has on me. Whether it’s an obsession to accumulate stuff or an obsession to live with the least amount of stuff — it’s still an obsession. I think this is where my new and renewed routines come in — meditating, reading, writing, connecting with people, cooking, exercising…

Another point I liked was that things should be made to last. I’ve used things til they fell apart. I’ve thrown out a lot of clothes and shoes because I’d torn holes in them. (I had one particular pair of jeans… I tore a hole in one knee. I still kept wearing it — I convinced myself it looked fashionable. Haha. Then, I tore the other knee as well. I threw it out soon after that because I noticed the butt area was getting reallllyyy thin and I was probably going to tear a hole in that area next…)

I’ve also gone through phases where I was especially attracted to cute, cheap things, but fortunately that isn’t the case now. None of those items are in my closet now… they’ve fallen apart ages ago.

I keep thinking back to how people used to live decades ago, where people had things that lasted years and years, and didn’t replace them til they fell apart. That’s something I now aspire to.

Still alive

I went on holiday for 2.5 weeks end of March/early April and I’m still trying to get back into my groove.

I’ve admittedly gone off my morning routine — I didn’t follow it at all when I went on holiday — and I can tell the difference. I’m trying to get back on it, but haven’t been able to wake up earlier. I haven’t checked a simple year or my reflections either. I’ve been blaming jetlag, but I think I’ve sufficiently recovered now, so no more excuses!

I am typing this in a clean apartment (‘cept the bathroom, doing that tomorrow), with two days worth of lunch cooling on the counter before I pop it in the fridge, a load of laundry drying and pillows tumbling in the dryer, so I guess things aren’t so bad. 😛

Random stuff

I don’t think I will ever be a super-minimalist. Most of the books and articles I’ve read and podcasts I’ve listened to stress how minimalism isn’t about having the least amount of stuff. It’s about not having excess. The exact number will vary from person to person. It is fine for me to surround myself with things that make me happy or are useful.

That being said, I still need a major cleaning session. I spend waaaay too much time tidying up, and I still have a lot of things I no longer use. Fortunately, there’s a long weekend coming up, so hopefully I’ll have time to really clean out my place then!

I’ve been trying to read more! Here’s my reading list if anyone’s interested what I’ve been up to. I think I’ve read more books so far than I did the past couple of years, haha. But anyway, I want to get back into reading not only because of the things I learn from the books themselves, but the fact that reading displaces my idle time. My wasted-on-social-media time. My mindless-surfing time.

(This post was really boring. I just wanted to jump start myself and put something up here! This is my getting-back-on-the-wagon-after-falling-off post, just like what I’m trying to do with my daily routine.)

Travel as a metaphor

This month’s theme for a simple year is travel, which is pretty good timing considering I’m going on a 2.5 week holiday over Easter! Anyway, the writer wrote how travel can be a metaphor for life. How much I choose to pack on my travels reflects how I choose to live my life.

So how do I pack for travel?

OK, so my colleagues will probably laugh at me. I’ve been known to check in luggage for short trips to Melbourne. My reasoning, being:

I hate carry-on luggage. I’d rather carry my purse with me on the plane and have everything else checked in. I don’t want to worry about cramming everything into my carry-on, dragging it around with me at the airport, then struggling to find space in the overhead locker. I’ve already paid for checking in luggage. I might as well make the best use of space. I honestly don’t mind the extra time it takes for me to have to wait for my luggage to come. I prioritise my convenience over that.

I’d rather be over than under prepared. I don’t want to risk not having a fresh piece of underwear. To be fair, if it’s a short trip, I already lay out my outfits for each day so I don’t have to worry about mixing and matching. Also, I like doing other stuff when I’m out. (Vague, I know.) I mean, I like exercising or checking out the hotel pool. So I bring stuff like gym gear or my swimwear in case I have the time to make use of the facilities.

Granted, those are pretty short trips, and they’re mostly to hotels. (I don’t backpack much.) I don’t think I over-pack… I just don’t under-pack. I’m not super efficient at packing and I’m honestly fine with it, considering I’m still within my luggage limits. I don’t want to struggle with laundry or stressing over optimal combinations of tops and bottoms unless I really have to.

So… upcoming 2.5 week trip. I’m already wondering about the best way to pack for this. I definitely think I’ll have to do laundry at some point… hmmm. Challenge is that I’m going to colder climate, so I’ll have to pack my cold weather stuff, too.

So… what does this mean about how I “pack” for my life?

I guess it means I don’t want to be a super minimalist? Haha. I still think there’s room for me to declutter, but I’m not too fussed about having my apartment become really bare. I value convenience over effort, which probably means I’m fine with having slightly more clothes if it means I don’t have to do laundry as often, or something.

But yeah, still figuring this thing out.

“The best is yet to come.”

I know this phrase is bandied about quite often, but there is something about it that just doesn’t sit well with me.

I mean, yes, if I’m currently undergoing a massive tragedy, then this is a great way to remind myself that this bad spot I’m in isn’t going to last forever.

But, if I’m at the other 95% of my life where things aren’t catastrophically bad, I think this phrase has a tendency to turn into an unhealthy obsession with a future that has not yet arrived, while not fully appreciating what I have now.

I was listening to a podcast on Optimal Living Daily based on Leo Babauta’s articles on The Tragedy of Missing Out and Inhabiting the Moment.

The podcast really drove home the point about how important it is to focus on the present and not be too caught up in the future. My life right now isn’t perfect (is anyone’s?) There are aspects of it that I’m admittedly dissatisfied with, and there are things I’m working towards. But I don’t want to keep telling myself that the best of my life is yet to come. Because life is what’s happening right under my nose.

Realistically, though, “the best is yet to come” doesn’t seem like it could apply to everyone. I know people whose lives ended on a sour note — estranged from their loved ones; bankrupt, while leaving behind a young family to support; passing away just when they were putting their life together. Real life tells us that there is no guarantee that all lives end on a high, or that if we live long enough, we will eventually see the fruition of all our dreams.

The phrase seems to me like a bit of a delusion. Personally, I don’t find comfort in the fact that the best is yet to come. Because I’ve already had some pretty awesome moments in my life, and I don’t like the implication then if the best is yet to come, then those great things I’ve experienced don’t really matter as much. I want to value the things I have now, not to be continuously telling myself that the future is going to be so much better.

I do tell myself that good things will happen to me in the future.
But I also tell myself that bad things will happen to me in the future.

In the meantime, I’m just going to focus on this moment and live my life.