The Perfect Zero

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Falls, Tara Evans, 2015 (mixed media on canvas)

Falls, Tara Evans, 2015 (mixed media on canvas)

Or how I learned to love minimalism

People been banging on to me about minimalism my whole life. My parents were into it, the spiritual movement I joined was into it, and there have always been those annoying twats who just live in pale-grey empty spaces and don’t let their children have more than one toy out at a time.

My feeling has always been that it’s not my bag. AT ALL. I always loved my things, was very sentimental about my things, they were perhaps as significant to me as living people. Also, I am messy. I make a mess, and I grubby things up. I can’t live in a pure white box coz I always make marks on things, or drop beetroot on them. I do things and use things and make things, and that leaves a trail of books, papers, paintbrushes, threads, pencils, discarded clothing and on and on. Luckily for me I also really enjoy having a good clean up and clear out, or I’d be like those hoarder types you see on TV.

So this time last year I and my ex were knees-deep in selling everything we owned (mostly what I owned, to be honest, it was mostly my stuff). Things I’d owned for a quarter of a century, things I remembered my Nan having when I was little girl (she has now upgraded from junk-shop antiques to 100% John Lewis’s finest), my two crates of accessories (they might come back into my style again!), even my books (even Len Deighton’s Bernard Sampson novels, my favourite espionage fiction of ever). I had suddenly begun to feel that all those things were weighing me down. They demanded space, they demanded maintenance, energy. We worked very hard for three months and we cleared out almost everything. The idea was to live van life and travel for a while, but even though that didn’t work out, I am delighted to own so very little now.

I got my very small collection of clothes (checked out Project 333 to get started), about ten books, a couple of plastic crates of art stuff, photos, a few favourite kitchen items and tools and my work materials. It could be a lot less, except that I found it very hard, and completely against my frugal nature, to get rid of tools and fabric, etc., that I will only have to buy again. What I miss is my egg-turner, which I can’t find a replacement for, and I regret the fact that during the break-up with my husband my six metal skewers went bye-bye. They were supposed to be once-and-forever purchases! Other than that, I don’t miss or think about anything I gave away or sold.

What’s brilliant about my new lifestyle is:

How long it takes to clear up – I made a mess, threw clothes, books, papers around everywhere? It only takes ten minutes to have everything ship-shape again. Everything has a place to live and dusting is a doddle.

I hardly buy anything – it took such an effort to get rid of everything, you really ask yourself whether you need this object/item whenever you are tempted. Buying things is not a casual act any more.

It’s green – I’ve always been big on upcycling, re-use, frugality (or being tight) and saving energy and resources, and minimalism is the logical extension of that. Smaller houses, less energy. Less furniture, clothes, books (I use the library now), less consumption, less waste.

I feel floaty-light.

You can choose the level of minimalism that feels right for you – it’s not about us all living in identical empty spaces with one artistically-draped house plant and no chairs. Have a go at giving some things to a charity shop – it feels brilliant and it will be good for your health and sanity, too.

Here’s a nice post with collected TED talks about minimalism: frugaling.org

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