How I Define Minimalism

The other day, I mentioned how I have begun to embrace a more minimalist lifestyle. It is not just my decor which feels over cluttered, but also everything else in my life. I have decided to use the opportunity of moving to make some dramatic changes in my life. I have spent a good deal of time introspectively recently trying to discover what I truly draw happiness from in life. Surprise, surprise, it isn’t stuff. I have come to feel that the things in my life have become a burden which often distracts me from the activities which grant me the most contentment.

I believe that it is a mistake to define minimalism as living with less; that would imply that ones life is somehow incomplete. Rather, becoming a minimalist, is about living with less; less than what one currently owns. How then, to define minimalism as a lifestyle? There are many forms of minimalism and the word, no doubt, means something different to each of us. Some narrow the number of objects they own down to 100 items, others go without a bed or other furniture, others may live entirely out of a backpack while traveling the world. These are purposefully extreme examples. Minimalism is not defined by the amount of things which one owns. A minimalist may own 100 items or 1,000. Perhaps they do not feel the need even to count. Any person who is content to live with enough, without excess, can be a minimalist. It up to each of us to define what qualifies as enough for ourselves. One should not have look outside of oneself to make this definition. It is not for one person to define the lifestyle of another, nor reject that others definition. What is important, when it comes to minimalism, is that one is content with the amount of things which one owns, but also that one does not look to those things to define that contentment.

Moving on. I would like to create a working definition for my minimalist journey. My goal is to live an uncomplicated, simpler life, to spend less money and time on physical things, and to focus on rewarding activities instead. In short, to seek contentment. I aim to realize this goal partially though minimalist living. How then shall I create a working definition? By taking to heart these immortal words:

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” – Hans Hofmann

Minimalist Wardrobe Purge

I currently work for a major fashion retailer in downtown Vancouver. As one might expect, I quickly acquired more and more articles of clothing soon after taking the position. I enjoy buying new clothes and when I am surrounded by new and interesting pieces each day, I find it hard not buy at least a few of the items which catch my eye. Aside from the clothes which I wear regularly, I also have my clothes for work, mostly dress shirts and ties. The result was to very different wardrobes, both of which slowly grew larger and larger with time until I ran out of hangers and space in my wardrobe.In the last few years, my sense of style evolved and changed many times, yet I still held on to items which no longer fit my current look. I like to think that I never slid quite so far down the fashion slope as some, I did spend far to much money on new clothes. While I am by no means a follower of current trends, it would seem that the current trend is not to do so.

I decided to make decluttering my wardrobe the next step in operation clean-shit-up. Choosing which items to keep and which to release turned out to be a bit of a challenge.I tried to keep only those items which I loved and thought to be beautiful, or which had no alternatives. I figured that having more than a weeks worth of any given article was unnecessary. Deciding to get rid of items which I actually wore and were in good condition was especially difficult for me to rationalize, yet having twenty t-shirts is unnecessary, so away they went. I started by taking all my t-shirts and sorting them into two piles; one to keep and one to be gotten rid of. I then folded each shirt that I wanted to keep. I repeated this with each clothing type, creating an ever growing pile of rejects. If an item was in disrepair which could be mended, out came the mending kit, then I re-evaluated the piece. Eventually, all of my clothes lay in neat, folded piles on my bed. It still seemed like an awfully large amount despite the large rejection pile. To help pare down the remainder, I tried each piece on and if it no longer fit, or was in anyway uncomfortable, into the pile it went. This is now my entire wardrobe minus 3 jackets, 1 bike poncho, 4 sets of shoes, 1 scarf, 2 pairs of gloves, my ski apparel, and my undergarments which I made no attempt reduce in number, though I did remove any out worn articles: Continue reading

Maximalism, Minimalism, and Creating Personal Space

I am moving soon, to return to the city of my birth, after nearly three years living in Vancouver, British Columbia. For the last two years, I have rented a room in a truly unique and wonderful house. Varouj, the man whose house it is, has been gracious in allowing me to decorate in ways few others would allow their tenant. As a result, my space has truly felt like home for the first time since I moved away. That sense of home is such that its importance cannot be overstated. Home is not where the heart is; home is where the heart feels at peace.

Decorating our houses is only one way that we help to create a home, but it is an important part. If we are uncomfortable with our surroundings, how then can we be at home within them? Decor can, however, be a difficult thing to create. Our tastes change as we do and an ever changing person means and ever changing ideal. That inner ideal is what we strive to manifest around ourselves in the form of decor. That which is within is shown without to create a personalized space. The room which I have spent the last two years creating is a reflection of that past ideal. Heavy colours, dark wood, and shaded lighting creates a cozy, dark atmosphere. I have always loved baroque and elizabethan interiors, as well as creating my own pieces (see the tv cabinet, hat rack, bookshelves, and bedside shelf below). Continue reading

Morning Reflections

There are a lot of thoughts,

A lot of colours here today;

More so than usual.

I sit on the railed walkway that frames the sea,

Looking out at the vast plains of water,

Dyed crimson by the rising sun.

They allow my eyes to see,

Through their portals, into dreams.

Those silver pathways to the Divine.

An Unexpected Portal

The sands of elemental time,

Flowing into fate.

Starburst of light.

Morning dew glistens on lake-smooth-pebbles.

Mists crawl across shimmering pavement.

An ethereal portal; gateway to Heaven.

Uncertain, but propelled, she slips in.

Timeless light sweeps by.

No stopping now.

The Other calls.

A ringing chant of welcome.

The smell of perfume on morning dew.

Worlds meet at dawn.