My Slow Journey Into Minimalism

This year, due to work, I was unable to enjoy my usual first-week-of-the-new-year reboot. Consequently, I am feeling burnt-out, unmotivated, and distinctly lacking in energy. I haven’t had a vacation from work in over a year (having pneumonia for a week doesn’t count!). I don’t feel like decluttering, working on home projects, or even going running. I just don’t feel like doing anything. And it’s not that I don’t feel like decluttering because I would rather watch TV. I don’t feel like watching TV either.

I am able to kindle a modicum of enthusiasm for working in the yard, mainly because it is mindless and allows me to get outside, and is a somewhat novel change from my day-to-day routine.

At this time last year, I was hoping that by year’s end my home would be clutter free, my life would have less stress, I would have established a healthier lifestyle, and I would have reduced most of my debt. But as I look around at my life today, I find that none of these things have come to pass. I have taken positive steps towards achieving each of these goals. I look forward to the day when my home is clutter free and easy to maintain. I look forward to the day when I will be financially fit, without the black cloud of debt constantly hanging over me. I look forward to the day when I will be full of energy and feel well from eating healthy foods and exercising regularly. I look forward to the day when I will come home from work and spend a relaxing evening with my family, having dinner together, catching up on the events of the day, and just enjoying one another’s company. With all these wonderful things to look forward to, why am I not further along with my goals?

And then, while reading Berin Kinsman’s book, A Minimalist Abroad, I read a passage that caught my attention:


We get caught up in these visions of having more in some undefined future that we squander what we have in the here and now. We forget that life is a finite resource.

Suddenly, my mind was drawn to a conversation that I had earlier this year with a work colleague. We were discussing how during the next couple of years my husband and I will be starting the process of applying for and visiting colleges with our daughter. In three years, my daughter will be gone away to college. And no matter how often she visits, bringing carloads of laundry, it will never be the same as her actually living at home. And it suddenly hit me how quickly time passes.

Life is finite. It’s too short to spend time worrying about a bunch of meaningless stuff cluttering up my home.

Decluttering was supposedly my primary goal for last year. So why is my house not decluttered yet? What am I holding onto? I dream of the clutterfree life, so why am I not expending all my effort trying to achieve it? Could fear be holding me back? Fear of what? Fear of a different lifestyle? Fear that once my house is decluttered, I will find that happiness still eludes me? Or worse yet, that I feel empty? Fear that once I am done, I won’t have a purpose any more?

What if I clear away all the clutter, and rather than finding contentment and happiness, I only find emptiness and loneliness? What if I find that without the clutter and the process of decluttering to focus on, my life has has no direction? Or that without the clutter, I have nothing to blame for my discontent?

To add to these difficult questions, I have been having reoccurring nightmares that we move from our home. Sometimes we move to a tiny apartment, sometimes we are relocating because I have taken a job somewhere else, sometimes we hole up in a hotel while we look for a new house. The theme of the nightmare is always the same – we made a decision based on what appeared to be a good opportunity or a good idea, but the idea of actually moving and starting a new life / job / household depresses me. I always awaken feeling nervous, unsettled, and distinctly out of sorts.

Maybe this is all a normal part of moving towards a minimalist lifestyle. Or maybe it’s just stress from work. Since I held on to all this junk for years without dealing with it, maybe the idea of having to deal with it is causing me to feel nervous, unsettled, and distinctly out of sorts. Maybe there are other buried feelings or fears that I am not dealing with that are starting to struggle to the surface.

In spite of this, I am not ready to give up on my dream of a minimalist home. Hopefully, I will be able to regain some motivation … somewhere. But in the meantime, I am still dedicated to continuing my slow journey into minimalism, and to dealing with the mental, emotional, and physical struggles that are part of that journey.

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