“In the west, making a space complete means placing something there. But with tea ceremonies, or Zen, things are left incomplete on purpose to let the person’s imagination make the space complete.” — Naoki Numahata
I was cruising around the internet recently*, randomly searching links on minimalism (like you do) and came across a couple interesting posts. One was AN ARTICLE on Japanese minimalism, and one was from ZEN HABITS about what a minimalist space might look like.
The first struck me because it’s minimalism in the extreme. It’s the sort of thing I fantasize about because it seems so … peaceful. It’s not do-able in my particular world, at least not at this time. And maybe never. Although if I say that out loud, the fantasy goes away, so shhhhhhhhh.
What I liked about the quote above, though, in particular, is that it forces the question, why do we feel the need to fill our spaces with so much stuff?
Why are we so afraid of blank spaces? Of leaving things incomplete?
From the same article:
Definitions (of minimalism) vary, because the goal is not just decluttering but re-evaluating what possessions mean, to gain something else …
I liked this because I think a lot of times, minimalism articles talk about the what — shedding stuff — without talking about the why. Maybe because it’s so much easier to concentrate on one thing at a time, or maybe because everyone has different reasons and they aren’t all tangible, the way that decluttering is. But the why is really the crux of the whole thing. Before you can declutter, you need to find your why.
I know, I know. But so much of this is mental. You can declutter all day long, but if you don’t define your why, then more stuff will come in.
Sometimes I worry about articles like this, though, just because they’re a bit of minimalist porn — those pretty pictures of clean, organized spaces can bring about feelings of inadequacy — but I liked that this one made me think about minimalism in a new way. I liked the suggested questions. The hinted answers, maybe not quite as much. It’s hard to be so truthful with yourself.
Because blank space is scary, yo. (That’s why I am a meditation failure, incidentally.) Although I can tell you this: When my mother comes to visit and inevitably comments on how clean my house is, I get a big kick out of that. My house isn’t clean — there’s just not a lot too look at, which makes it seem tidier than it is.
There’s one of my whys right there.
The second article is actually an example of the sort of posts I just … I don’t know. There were many times when I started my minimalist journey where I stalked blogs like this, looking for an idea of what a minimalist lifestyle would entail should I jump off that cliff.
It’s another sort of minimalist porn.
But here’s the thing: You don’t need anyone to tell you what they have in their house and what you need to do to get there, and you don’t have to justify your lifestyle to anyone, either. That’s why I don’t write about “The Seven Kitchen Gadgets You Should Give Up Right Now” or “How To Have A Minimalist Wardrobe.”
Minimalism isn’t hard and fast — remember the quote above, about reevaluating what your possessions mean and what you’ll gain from discarding or keeping them? DO THAT.
No, I’m not oversimplifying it. Grab a notebook, or a blank blog post, or the back of your hand or whatever, and ask yourself what you’d like your space to look and feel like, and how you want it to function. Then make it happen. Edit or don’t edit. Reread what you’ve written when the going gets tough (it will) and you want to give up (you will).
THAT’S how you have a minimalist home. And the beauty of it is that how it looks is completely up to you. Minimalism isn’t a game or a competition. We’re all winners as far as I’m concerned.
And if you do find articles like the one above helpful, awesome! There’s more than one way to figure this all out.
* I started this post in June and have been meaning to get back to it since. Still find it fascinating.
P.S. Summer is winding down in the Walker household — Abby has been back at college for a few weeks now, and Johanna is getting ready to go back after Labor Day (we tend to start classes late in Oregon, no idea why). I love summer and am sad to see it wane, but I’m also looking forward to a more defined … routine, schedule, purpose, can’t think of the exact word I want … that fall tends to bring as the days get shorter and cooler.
Ah, time. It just keeps marching forward.