Thursday, January 9, 2014

One Wonders

Minimalism 2

// Alex Cican //

In some ways, I really relate to the sentiments behind "minimalist" fashion. I like the idea of not being wasteful; not encouraging gratuitous production. But I have zero interest in a monochromatic, clean-lined, or "classic" aesthetic, and I want to have lots of things. I am a big fan of possessions. Yes, they need to be organized or I go crazy, but there can be plenty of 'em! I view my objects, especially my clothes, as an expression of my current identity, whatever that may be. When I have a limited set to work with, I get bored. Not only that, but I feel dull, like a dusty mirror. What does that say about my self-perception? Without my pretty wardrobe, I'm nothing? I don't want to believe that.

Melody Beattie famously said, "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more." I struggle to be thankful in this encompassing way. The Nife often talks about "the feeling of enough", which I understand to mean contentment with the current situation. Not complacency, but satisfaction with one's goods and experiences. Ironically, the author of that blog has been striving for years to simplify her material life, and has yet to reach a point of satisfied contentment. Does such a destination exist?

These musings leave me conflicted and conclusion-less. Here is a bright picture instead:

minimalism


If you have any thoughts on this topic, please let me know what they are! Other people's perspectives always help me figure out my own.

16 comments :

  1. If this is a 2nd comment, please delete - somehow my previous comment disappeared and a "whoops" appeared on the page!

    I like the way you use your possessions as an art form that portrays an outward expression of your identity. It must be very fun to think of clothing and accessories and interior design this way. I would love to have a gift to be able to do this, and I can imagine that having more things to work with would make it even more fun.

    I would encourage you not to compare yourself to others and just be happy with your own way!

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    1. I got one of those error messages earlier today! So annoying.

      Thank you for your kind words and good advice! My $0.02 is that it doesn't take a special gift, just a certain perspective. Not everyone is interested in aesthetics, and that's totally fine, but if you are, go for it!

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  2. To me, life will never reach a state of feeling complete. Everything is always in motion, and everything is also changing constantly. Who you may be and what you may like may not be the same in just a year from now, and though it's difficult to see, it will be easier to accept once you realize you are there. I can definitely relate to the feeling of wanted to be okay with having things minimal, but the minimal aesthetic and the minimal lifestyle are more like two different things. It's good to donate things you may not need, or focus on spending less. I can see how it would be difficult to feel like what you have is enough, especially when there are so many awesome things out there. One possible way to help with this is to take on the role of a creator more often than a consumer. If I see a knit hat that I like at a store, I will often just go home and knit one that is inspired by the one I saw.

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    1. "One possible way to help with this is to take on the role of a creator more often than a consumer." Yes. I need to focus on that more.

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  3. Wall of text INCOMIIIIIIIIING!

    Welcome to that wonderful time of life where: 'so in theory I'm an independent thinking adult with my own opinions, preferences, etc, but I feel like it's all in a state of flux and society is kind of still treating me like a child'. :-D

    It's the conflict between the last vestiges of teenagehood (where you're still trying to figure out who you are and you're constantly worried that who you do think you are isn't quite cutting it) and the rocky introduction to being a 'grownup' (where lots of things suddenly start feeling like they are frivoloties and you should stop being 'selfish' and 'childish' and caring about things that are 'irrelevant in the grand scheme'). What fun!

    The good news is that it passes, when you finally manage to see your way clear to being comfortable with who you are and what you like. Humans have always and will always like 'things' - even if that 'thing'; is a sense of minimalism in their surroundings. Even if that 'thing' is the sense of gratification that they achieve from paring down their life to the absolute minimum. To each their own - all we can really do is try to ensure that our preferences don't spill over into dangerous, detrimental extremes, and jusk keep on trying to be the best person we can.

    Part of the problem is that when you are a well-meaning, nice person, you tend to worry that you are not a well-meaning, nice person, and feel guilty about it. This is exacerbated when you are at that tipping point between ages I mentioned earlier, because you are still suffering from those teenage identity anxiety leftovers. The problem with this (aside from the fact that it makes you unhappy) is that it's selfish. Not in the grabby, mean way, but in the negative, introspective way that eats away at your self esteem. There is a wonderful quote from Leonard Cohen:

    'When you stop thinking about yourself all the time, a certain sense of repose overtakes you.'

    There is so much truth in this statement that it hurts. I think that the sense of comfort or satisfaction that people describe about their lifestyle/way of being (assuming they are actually genuinely satisfied and not just saying so to try and convince themselves of it), is because they have so totally accepted who they are that they no longer feel all that anxiety about who they 'should' be - they don't have to think about 'tehmselves' any more. This is what I would strive to achieve: true acceptance of who you are - not an aesthetic or way of living that doesn't appeal to you, but you feel that you're 'supposed' to want. :-)


    Whoa. Sorry about all the words ;-) I hope that made some sort of sense!

    On the practical solutions front (as opposed to the amateur psychology one), if you're secretly kind of bothered by the fact that you like owning things, try to encourage turnover in your hoard - recycle, upcycle, gift, make, modify, donate, swap or otherwise avoid the feeling that you're just Smaug with clothes/makeup instead of gold ;-). Since you already make your own accessories and encourage ethical window shopping, I doubt you really have a problem here! ;-)

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    1. YES, I am Smaug! But seriously, thank you. You gave me a lot of food for thought, Syl. This is really salient (and comforting): "when you are a well-meaning, nice person, you tend to worry that you are not a well-meaning, nice person, and feel guilty about it."

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    2. It's SO true. lots of people (especially women, yay for social conditioning!) tend to worry about this!

      I hoped my post didn't come across as patronising - one of the benefits of being ancient (like me) is that I've already been through the little laundry list of bullsh*t that I mentioned at the beginning - so if I can tell someone that they're not alone in having these thoughts, and try to reassure them that it will sort itself out eventually, I do! With a wall of text, muahahahaah! *evil laughter, while balancing dagger on fingertip*

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    3. Not at all--I didn't feel condescended to! More like counseled, by my wise elder. Who's good at that dagger thing that makes me nervous. Ha!

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  4. I'm definitely with you in the same boat: my clothes help define who I want to be by allowing me to dress up in various identifiable markers. I like to play around with different materials, so it doesn't make sense for me to have a limited palette. However, I do like the mindset of a more eco-conscious and sustainable take to fashion. Perhaps the compromise is to buy more from thrift stores--I can still build my collection while helping keep clothes out of landfills.

    Brittney

    anotherbeautifulthing.blogspot.com

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    1. Yup! I've pretty much come to same conclusion.

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  5. Great thoughts and self-reflection! I am not, by anyone's standards, a minimalist. I do, however, appreciate them very much. I can't wrap my head around how to do it. I, too, like stuff, and words, and time, and food, and people, and STUFF. I, also, don't like to let go of things once I have them. That seems like a waste to me. Unless I'm giving it to someone/thing that needs it more than I or I truly have no need for it anymore.

    I do believe that minimalistic (Probably not a word, and yes, I do teach English.) behaviors are every much as addictive as clutterbug collectors like myself. Their lives aren't "better" by some set of rules, only different.

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    1. You always have such a balanced perspective. Thank you, Carrie!

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  6. Oh gracious. I'm a 'do what works for you' person. And when it stops working, don't do it anymore. Simple. I also favor saying, 'if it's stupid, but it works, it's not stupid.' For some reason nobody really likes hearing that statement.

    Wait, we were talking about fashion, right? The face we paint for the world? Sonya, you are absolutely beautiful. I have seen you pull off a myraid of looks that are so darling. If you want to go minimalist, you could do it with aplomb. If you wanted to do rockabilly, femme fatale, haram pants, or even ice skating queen - I bet you could. And why not? Why limit your creativity and self expression?

    The minimalist look is fierce though. Can't wait to see your interpretation - if that's what sparks your muse.

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    1. Ha, that saying is truuue! But it could definitely make me growl if I was mid-rant.

      On a more serious note, I really appreciate the encouragement. It makes me feel on top of the world.

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