Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details.
Today we have a wonderful contribution from Christopher, who explains how his childhood experiences inspired him to pursue a simpler, more minimalist life.
I was raised in a family where every square inch of every home I ever lived in as a child was used to its maximum potential. It wasn’t cluttered; it was organized, but boy was it ever filled! You had to squeeze around the garage to get out of the cars. Food and supplies were stored around all walls of the garage. There was a whole drawer dedicated to “wire”, cookie jars filled with breath mints, racks 3 deep times 5 wide with laundry detergent, an unplugged refrigerator that stored nuts, a freezer with “seal-a-meal” planned-overs, and tupperware bowls of soup and frozen bread. Growing up, some friends thought we were preparing for the apocalypse. I didn’t know life could be different. My parents had parents of the great depression, and while they didn’t keep busted up rusted out hardware and bent nails to straighten up one day like their folks did, they did jump into the big box store mentality of buy in bulk, bigger is better, and more is safer.
But when I moved away to college I learned life could be simpler. Having one of an item and fully using it up; and going out mindfully to replace it meant a lot to me. Having a refrigerator where at the end of the week I could wipe it down because I saw the back of it, made me smile. Being able to move from my rented apartment and pack all of my belongings in one car made me happy beyond belief. Of course along the way I collected more and more things.
Nonetheless, when I set out to own my own home and create my own life, I was mindful of having drawers where I knew what the contents were inside. And I didn’t have to press hard on the contents to close them. Closets in the guest room that didn’t have my own seasonal outfits in them, but instead just two pillows and a blanket, and ten empty hangers. A key ring that has three keys on it, all of which I use every day. I learned to cherish the space between things rather than the things themselves. I’ve been happier for it. I did marry someone closer to my parents then myself in this regard. It brought a smile to my face when I saw a box recently labeled “junk drawer” and opened it to find a time capsule of items from my wife’s junk drawer 3 moves and 12 years ago. Items she hasn’t needed for over a decade; still following us like a dust bunny.