|Personal picture - a test at macro with the iPhone 4 in 2012.|
Limitations foster creativity, and I've had a number of new, smaller post ideas on the week-end before I received my new appartment's keys, planning a number of post drafts which I didn't have quite the time to finalize in April. This time, I'm coming back with a post similar to the Update Bits, but focused on minimalist topics. Hope you like it.
Joy in ObjectsMinimalism and objects is a big topic. Yes, minimalism is about focusing less on material possessions and more on other things (social connections, creativity, personal projects, travel and experiences...). I personally believe that, more than anything, minimalism is about getting rid of that urge to acquire new things all the time.
But that doesn't mean you have to treat each and every object in your life like a pure utility item with no soul nor joy. As I learned more about Marie Kondo's method (after all, my whole feed was full of her these weeks, I had to check it out), one of the interesting things I found about her is that she places the joy in objects at the centre of her method. After all, the question you ask youself when sorting your stuff is "does it spark joy?".
So yes, a minimalist can find joy in the objects they own and use every day. No, it isn't superficial and useless to write down your shopping list in a nice-looking notebook, if the notebook in question sparks joy everytime you go to the market. It isn't superficial to wrap your neck around a colourful scarf or to wear this beautiful clove-shaped pendant if it makes your day a bit brighter.
Minimalist doesn't mean everything black and grey and white and utilitarian. There is space for a bit of fantasy and magic. It is not only OK, but recommended, to use items that spark joy. Moreover, I believe that is a great way to cultivate gratitude, mindfulness and a sense of enough - while you happily go get your groceries with your cute notebook, you may feel less tempted to go buy a new notebook, or scarf, or whatever else, because you are happy with what you own.
Access and OwnershipYet minimalism is indeed about owning less. Especially for utilitarian objects that spark no joy and are used only sparingly. We usually think about stuff like lawn mower or electric drills when it comes to renting or borrowing an item instead of owning it, but it came to me with another type of item entirely.
Books. I am an avid reader, and my geek shelf has always been full of mainstream and niche books to show off to my guests - there was A Song of Ice and Fire on there ten years ago, after all. Being such an enthusiast reader, and a writer, books would be the last thing I'd consider accessing but not owning.
Yet, as I simplified my life, I realized there is no value for me in a book that sits unread on a shelf. After I read it once, I mean, of course. Books aren't really the type of items you read again and again over time - usually, you read it once then move on to reading something new. I came to realize that I don't need a geek shelf to validate my identity and tastes. I also came to realize that, unless I do go back to a certain book to read it regularly, I only need to access a book for as long as it takes to read it. So I'm using libraries a lot now. I'm selling or giving away books I've had to buy because they were unavailable at the library. And I'm curating a selection of books that I'm keeping, because I'll make regular use of it. And it sparks joy (say, Dominique Loreau's L'Art de la Simplicité for example, which I read passages from regularly).
In a more general way, the concept of access is simple: you don't need to own everything you use. Especially when it takes up space in your home for most of the year, because you either only use it once, or at very rare occasions. You can buy, use, then sell or donate. But I have to admit that borrowing or renting is way easier then, isn't it?
A minimalist gamer?One thing I love about blogging, is discovering profiles just as odd and unexpected as my own. As I blabbed about video games in general, and, recently, Dragon Age in particular (the lady doesn't have time to post but she has time to play the PS4, go figure), I discovered there is a number of minimalist gamers out there. Hey girls!
Today's point is: is it possible to be a minimalist and a gamer? Many minimalists advocate to get rid of the TV (and I totally agree when it comes to ad-filled TV channels, mind you), but also, mainly on blogs with a male audience, they advocate to stop playing mind-numbing video games and go outside more. Well, you are not the boss of me. I can be a minimalist gamer and here is why.
This position comes from seeing games as a mindless distraction, as can be TV or internet browsing. But I think you can consume video games in a mindful way. Just like reading or watching films, there are good video games, and... other video games. With an audience who grew up with the NES and mario in the 80s, we have now gamers who were children in the 80s and, contrary to the South Park heroes, grew up. A lot of gamers, especially playing on high end consoles like the PS4, are in their late 20s, their 30s and even in their 40s now. As a result, video games have matured as well.
I now personally consider video games as a cultural product, the same way as books, films, series and other cultural media. When you play a video game, you can learn things, ask yourself questions, but also improve attention and reflexes. It has been proven that gaming provides a level of focus, a state of "flow", rarely attained nowadays as we get distracted and interrupted all the time. Children who play some games like puzzles or reflex based games improve their motor skills, reflexes and memory. And some adult games provide real philosophical topics to think about, like a book or film. Take Dragon Age for example - they broach the topic of religion, faith and belief, of power, freedom versus safety, only to mention a few. As you make choices yourself as a player, your own values and ethics are put to the test, which can be enlightening.
So yes, if you are a gamer, I believe you can be a minimalist without tossing your PS4 out the window. Or your mobile game, if that's how you roll. It's a question of choosing the right games, the ones that bring you joy, immerse you into a state of pure focus, help you ask some questions, why not? It's also a question of balance, gaming as a cultural activity among others, and not as an unhealthy habit to distract ourselves from real life issues.
And, if you are not a gamer, but have another hobby of yours minimalists say you should get rid of, maybe you should think about: what does this hobby bring to my life? Is it indeed a mindless distraction, or is it something that brings me joy, makes me think? The point is, there is no one size fits all for minimalism, and I strongly encourage you apply your critical thinking to any advice you read about...
That's it for today's minimalist bits, a bit longer than expected but hey, I hope it helps! What about you? What did simplifying your life teach you about lately?