Recently someone asked me if I thought Minimalism is a fad.
First of all, I live simply, consciously, because it matches my values, one of which is living in integrity with my values! To me, the term “Minimalism” smells like embarking on actions that will be prohibitive and draining of life’s colors. That said, as someone who has chosen to live simply for decades, I do feel authorized to respond to the spirit of the question.
So, Is Minimalism A Fad?
Maybe for some, who enter into it for the “wrong” reasons, minimalism is a fad.
Wrong reasons would include: guilt, “shoulds”, following the crowd, coming from a place of lack and poverty thinking, rebellion against parents, authority figures and modern western society.
Do you Have First World Guilt?
I did. When I came to Mexico in 2006 to live in a small traditional community, I was constantly apologizing for “my people.” I wore traditional dress to show respect, to fit and, and with the hope of not being identified as one of “them.” “Them” being those people from el norte who have been ruining the world for centuries through patriarchal, masculine (energy not gender necessarily), left brain, technological, spirituality-denying focus — motivated by the desire to control nature.
I recently wrote an article about the annual Virgin of Guadalupe celebration in Mexico and a conversation I overheard at the pre-dawn procession, naming “us” (the Outsiders) as the culprit for the low attendance. It brings tears to my eyes now, remembering what was said. Because I agree.
Realizing I carried the guilt of my culture on my shoulders as a martyr, I have released that way too heavy load to a large extent. It is akin to modern Germans carrying the “sins” of their ancestors involved with the Holocaust: they are Germans, but they didn’t commit the actions and don’t necessarily agree with them.
I do maintain my awareness and sentiments, however. Many of my life choices come from the painful consciousness regarding the inharmonious, disrespectful behaviours of my western heritage toward (or away from) the earth.
I live as I do because I want to, it brings me peace, joy and connection with myself and nature and the ancient sustainable life ways. Also, I live simply on purpose with a sense of responsability.
It is important to discern and untangle responsibility with guilt and shoulds. This is related to why I bristle at the term, “Minimalism”: I don’t want to live “right” out of a sense of obligation or paying for the sins of my ancestors. I want to live “right for me” out of a desire for self-respect and living the most fulfilling life possible. For myself and for the earth as the unique expression of All that I am.
Are You Secretly Wanting to be Cool, Still?
If you’re wanting to become a Minimalist because others are doing it, I invite you to check in with yourself and ask:
• Do the people I know or read about who are Minimalists seem happy, joyous and free?
• Do I feel from them an intellectual superiority that is appealing, but not what really feeds me?
• Does being accepted and belonging trump listening to my own sensibilities, best impulses and most luscious dreams?
• What is it about Minimalism appeals to me and what parts, if any, will make me feel how I want to feel, moving me toward my most gorgeous, alive life?
Do You Deserve Abundance, Prosperity and Stuff?
This is a big one. In observing the implicit patterns, ruts and behaviors that come with being part of the mainstream, you may naturally feel disgust and repulsion. Maybe what you see and have lived hurt your heart because you know there’s a better, saner, healthier way.
Sometimes, as part of the martyr stance, one can feel material possessions are necessarily bad. I heartily disagree. It is important to recognize what you love, what ignites you, what your talents and gifts are. And in this recognition, you may need “things” to support, help and make possible your development as the best “X” you can be. So, no need to deny certain “stuff” nor to feel guilty for wanting or having them.
Another issue around money and stuff could be anger at your family and society for “what they’ve done.” How they’ve led you astray or didn’t lead you properly or wisely as you deserved. So you reject them. “I’m not playing your game with your rules.” Is this true for you? If so, with time, I invite you to look toward the light and consider: Are you making decisions in order to move toward or away from something?
I have learned something over these decades of living simply: I am physical, living in a physical world. It may all be illusion, but this is the illusion, the game that I’m in. I’m part of it all, and I was created in this Universe, on this planet, with my sensitivities and creative bents. I’m valid just as anyone else is. Even more, I am the only me that will ever exist. So it is my job to follow the breadcrumbs, my heart, and open doors, in order to give to the planet my own unique expression – for my growth, and for the betterment of my home, Earth.
There are those who could be entering into minimalistic practices, such as scaling down possessions drastically, that will end up miserable, depressed, and feeling deprived — and who might have thought it was a noble or the “right” act, but in fact might be missing the point by starving their souls.
I believe life is best lived juicily — embracing passionately what brings you joy, fulfillment, a sense of purpose, being on the right track for you at any given time, following your bliss and talents, longings and breadcrumbs.
Respecting the Earth Naturally
At the same time, I believe a life in connection to yourself, the universe and your place in the world, will naturally lead to or include a loving awareness of and respect for the earth — our planet, our mother, our home, sustainer and giver of our life and all we have. With this consciousness, I believe one contacts a natural desire to use resources with care and appreciation, selecting what one uses with care, taking those elements, materials, products and what they provide for your life — as gifts.
Values Enter the Picture
That is why coming into contact with what you believe, your values, how you think life is best lived and having the courage to take steps into that — is a crucial part of an intentional, fulfilling, true-to-you life.
That is part of why I wrote Calling Myself Home: Living Simply, Following Your Heart and What Happens When You Jump, and it is what motivates me to serve the world as I do — through my writing, coaching, courses, and in the works — simple living retreats in Mexico.
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Robin Rainbow Gate
I help people midlife and beyond to find their inner power, health and well being through slow, conscious living
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