What is TOTT? A (hopefully) weekly snippet of what I’ve been thinking about, pockets of content for bite-sized consumption, not quite big enough to be pieces of their own. Think of this like a commonplace notebook, or a conversation starter. 5/29/17
The Minimalism Friction
I think a lot of minimalists fell into the lifestyle hoping to find answers. When I first started carving out my possessions, I saw it as a path to enlightenment — fewer objects meant more time, more memories, more peace. So I cast out all the clothing that didn’t spark joy, put all my photos on the cloud, and vowed to only use e-books from then on.
But there’s a certain discord that joined minimalism when it came into my life. I find myself feeling uncomfortable with the amount that I’ve packed, even when all of the things in the bag are things that I need for the trip. I look around a room devoid of things, and still feel like I need to purge more. And lately, I’ve been staring at my blank walls and just feeling empty.
It’s fact that minimalism is very personal. Marie Kondo’s guideline of keeping whatever “sparks joy” is intensely variable person to person. However, it’s tough to remove onesself from the ideal of pristine white rooms, and packing for a month-long trip in a backpack.
Chasing the ideal isn’t the way forward.
I’m starting to print out my pictures again, and broaden my wardrobe beyond three colors. It’s making me happy, at least for now. But I think I will never really come out of minimalism. Instead of holding myself to the idealized, cookie-cutter idea of “owning only what you need”, I need toeep to minimalism in my own unique ways. I focus on buying better quality clothes, rather than snapping up bags from fast-fashion stores. I’m a bit more mindful about the purchase of a toy camera, wondering if I’ll really use it, or if I’m just trying to satisfy my gatherer-brain. I still definitely try to keep only as much as I can fit into my car.
A Loss of Personality
There’s something uncomfortable and off-brand about the generalization of the Amazon Bookstore.
One of the key things about Amazon is its personalized suggestions — I go to Amazon to discover new books that are related to books I’ve already read. But walking into a brick-and-mortar store loses that specificity; when you’re physically stocking books, you can’t cater to your users’ needs. You can only find books rated 5-stars overall, with no respect to your preferences of genre, author, or style.
AmazonBooks stores also lose the comforting, personal touch of a smaller bookstores. Handwritten book recommendations from store clerks are a huge draw, like a loving note written by a friend for you to read. I love walking into a locally owned bookstore and seeing the first table spread with the owner’s personal favourites.
Maybe AmazonBooks stores will throw out the Barnes and Nobles stores across the globe, but I think it will still be missing something that we need.
Helpful Thoughts for Feeling Jealous
- Does this really threaten me? If it does, how so?
- This is just a moment. Accept the feeling, it will be gone again soon.
- Each person is a whole individual. You are whole, and so are they.
- Maybe it’s time to do something else. Focus on a hobby, or practice something.
This article was originally written and posted on Medium.