I am not a “perfect” minimalist. The reason is because there is no “perfect” minimalist. Minimalism is a tool we can use in varying ways to varying degrees; each person who uses this tool is different. I want to give you an example of one of my “imperfections,” even as a self-professed minimalist.
I have two collections. Collections are not often found in the life of a minimalist. In fact, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, The Minimalists, would dub collecting another form of hoarding. I’ll discuss one of those collections now to illustrate my point that there isn’t a state of “perfection” in our minimalist journeys.
Minimalism is about removing the clutter (mental, physical, emotional) that distracts us from the important stuff in our life. The real stuff. The stuff that matters. When it comes to my two collections, not only do they matter, but they add consistent value to my life.
I have a collection of autographed books. It includes titles such as The More of Less, God and the Gay Christian, and B. It includes the work of authors such as Jamie Tworkowski, Angie Bailey, and Rick Moody.
It feels as if the autographed copies add a feeling of connection to the author. I don’t keep many physical copies of books anymore, so there is already a deep connection to the text if I’m willing to own a physical copy. I try to create an overlap by making sure I only add autographed books to my collection if I already have a strong connection to the author and/or text itself. For this reason, this modest collection houses only eight books.
These eight books are books I read (and desire to read) time and time again. They are books I elicit understanding and growth from, generally. Or, at the least, they are books that bring me immense creative joy. I read these books to my child. I make notes about these books. I use these books to cultivate important discussions with others. I use the wisdom and ideas from these books to build on my own writing and creative work.
Also, I’m not afraid to remove books from this collection. Not one piece in this collection has the promise of a permanent home. No, these books must continue to earn their place in my life. These books must continue to be a priority if they are to continue being a physical possession I hold onto.
See? I’m no “perfect” minimalist. This collection (and the other) is not the reason, though. This collection is not some sort of minimalist failure. No; I’m not a “perfect” minimalist because no such minimalist exists. If minimalism is a tool you are using (or think you would like to use) in your own life, don’t let grandiose expectations bar that tool from being as useful as it is capable of being to you.
Only you know the type of life that you desire to lead. You are the only person on this planet that can establish your priorities. No one can judge your minimalist journey in a way that matters unless you allow them to. You may have one collection, no collections. You might own one outfit or thirty-three. You may live in a tiny home, a grand home, or no home.
None of these scenarios will make you a “perfect” minimalist. I don’t know any “perfect” minimalists. I know of minimalism, the tool, and I use it to craft my life in meaningful ways. I encourage you to do the same.