The Mess of Minimalism

It’s Sunday morning- outside my window, crickets sing a sweet tune under an overcast sky, a melody over the distant hum of traffic. A gardener somewhere nearby is digging into soil with a spade. The sound of the spade hitting the ground seems to echo.

Outside, the day will gain heat and strength with the afternoon sunshine, but the wind will keep it cool enough to walk around all day, adventuring around the city. Summer’s dragonflies still zoom and swirl, but the cicadas are gone. Outside sings the lush beauty, order and balance of the Equinox.

Inside my house, however, I am surrounded by mess. Getting ready to move, I’ve taken out everything hidden away in drawers and closets, preparing for a reckoning of all my items.

And I’ve realized, most of my “mess” comes from unfinished projects. Bits of stories started on scrap papers. Packages half-prepared to send to friends. Language textbooks unfinished. Half-used bottles of vitamins, make-up; sewing projects- even paperwork for back taxes needing to be filed.

If I count these things as projects, I have dozens of unfinished projects.

The truth is, I kind-of hate the term minimalism, and associate it with the judgmental tone of its most popular gurus and promoters. But perhaps minimalism is, by nature, judgmental. Because here I am, facing so many poor decisions I’ve made in the past two years I’ve lived here, being silently judged by the mess around me.

So in reducing my life once again to two suitcases, it looks like I have two options for these projects: finish them, or abandon them.

Except I’ve run out of time. I move in a matter of days.

So I need one more thing: forgiveness.

Forgive myself, and abandon the project. Appreciate what I was trying to accomplish- the cool project for my students, the desire to be healthier (vitamins), or to look more professional (make-up), the feeling I was trying to convey with the aborted story.

Minimalism is dirty work. I have to confront my failures.

Everything I want to keep can fit into two suitcases. The rest? It’s the mess of minimalism.

(By next year, I will pare down my possessions to a carry-on and a backpack.)


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