I’m a Midimalist: So What?
I have stuff — probably more stuff than I should — and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
There’s the three storage bins stuffed unceremoniously under my bed, its contents ranging from old Fair Isle sweaters my mom knitted while living in Ireland, to outrageously impractical shoes I bought because they were 90 percent off and I’d find a use for them later. Or that’s how I’d rationalize it. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a hoarder because thankfully, I don’t have an obsession with collecting things like used milk jugs or airplane spoons, but I definitely have Stuff-with-a-capital-S.
Then the holy prophet of the home Marie Kondo came from on high, preaching her sermon of KonMari — the art of paring down your belongings and ridding yourself of anything that doesn’t “spark joy” — and put a non-believer like me in a panic. Was my pleasantly cluttered Brooklyn kitchen, my linen tower full-to-bursting with beauty products, my home office overflowing with magazines I’d get to reading at some point, really holding me back? Was I simply “undisciplined” when it came to paring down and living my minimalist fantasies, as Kondo believed?
One rainy Saturday, I tried to KonMari the shit out of my life. The storage bins came out, and so did the sweaters, jackets and those ridiculous shoes. All were tossed in the “donate” pile, as were a host of coffee table books, some throw pillows and about half of my bookshelf (I was an English major, so we’re talking a metric ton of books). I thanked them for their service, just like Kondo said I should. But then I looked at other things around my apartment — my tool box full of screwdrivers, hammers and mouse traps. My broom. My plunger. None of those things sparked any real joy in the depths of my soul, but they were necessary all the same.
In spite of myself, I couldn’t just throw away a shoebox full of sentimental junk — ticket stubs, wristbands from concerts, museum badges, restaurant receipts — from old romances. I winced inwardly, realizing I was the sentimental sap I always feared I would someday become.
As days turned to weeks and I waited for Salvation Army to free me from my burden of things, I found myself rummaging through the boxes for missed objects. Turns out, I really did want to read that last issue of the New Yorker and that hand-knit sweater came in handy when a blizzard raged through the city.
You could argue that to be an American is a study in excess — it is our society, after all, that gave the world super sizing, monster SUVs, Black Friday and the massive McMansions in which to store all that extra stuff. But the way Kondo looks at “stuff,” especially things with sentimental value, is that it’s time to pack up. Move on. And stop living in the past.
Living like a minimalist just doesn’t work for me. I happen to like having seven shades of foundation at my disposal at any given moment. And sure, while I mostly have a uniform of skinny black jeans, boots and loose-fitting sweaters, maybe there’s a day when I want to wear those crazy 90 percent off heels.
When the Salvation Army truck came, a good amount of my belongings went with it. As for the pleasant clutter? It’s still here — the stacks of magazines, the army of tote bags thrown over my door handle, six scarves in the same blue-gray color.
While I know I could have given up everything that didn’t spark joy, I found a new way. That way is midimalism. Not too little, not too much, but just right for me.