An Open Letter to Minimalism
I see your likeness in square frames on Instagram: White walls glowing with sunlight. Carefully selected, solid wood furnishings. Warm candles on marble tabletops. Beautifully displayed capsule wardrobes in spacious closets. I long for this kind of order. The home that quietly invites, “Have a seat and some hot coffee; there is no further cleaning necessary.”
Instead, I’m over here with a trunk full of Goodwill donations and still my house looks like a Thomas the Tank Engine graveyard.
I have sought after you faithfully. I shop at IKEA via Craigslist. I selected my capsule colors and escorted the misfits to charity. I did away with our random coffee mugs and keep only the white ones on the (extra points for) open shelving. I clean with Norwex and essential oils. I have a copy of Nordic Light strategically placed on the coffee table. As if that hasn’t made my intentions clear enough, I have recessed lighting positioned throughout the building.
I have mentally purged myself of a desire for material things. My pin boards resemble yule logs at a maximum five pins each. I read minimalist blogs and follow Kinfolk Magazine to stay inspired and intentional. I started a “capsule” menu at our house, where we eat according to a nine-meal rotation every three days. Our “capsule” shower is comprised of exactly one family-size bottle of 3-in-1 shampoo, body wash, bubble bath. I avoid waste by using cloth everything—napkins, diapers, Chemex filters—and by eating all the crusty ends of bread. My kids watch Pingu. I even started learning Norwegian and replacing the beautiful ampersand with a PLUS SIGN.
I’ve done everything (short of hiring a maid) I can think of to make this house conducive to you, but you have scarcely made an appearance. I’m hurt and a little confused.
Look… I’m sorry I still haven’t cleaned the red crayon my daughter frantically scribbled in the hallway. But I did take care of the indigo and atomic tangerine on the refrigerator, the periwinkle on the end table, and the straight-up pencil scratches on the kitchen floor. Maybe 80% effort doesn’t cut it? Should I take her crayons away? I must confess, part of me is enthralled with her freewheeling mind, and I don’t intervene as soon as I should. I’m so ashamed.
I ask my son to please, please stop jumping on the new (used) couch; the $900 sectional is on the curb because of you. It seems he can’t help himself. I would love for him to exercise outside, but he insists the grass isn’t bouncy enough. How can I contain this rogue human?
My little baby boy is perfect, but he sure produces laundry. And diapers. And somehow dishes. Why, oh why did I choose white as his main capsule color???
I keep telling myself that you really do exist, but it’s as though the ideal and real are oil and water. After all this effort, isn’t life supposed to be getting easier? By now shouldn’t I have arrived at that moment where I sit down, rest, and enjoy the space I’ve created? Will you continue to punish me for the actions of my family members? They don’t desire you as I do. I’m dying for some respite from this daily tug of war. I fear I’m losing hard and in danger of forsaking your most wise principles. Will I ever meet you in person?
Please advise as to what I might be missing. I’m not afraid to get drastic.
Lusting after simplicity,
Recovering Perfectionist and Mama of Three
Dear Recovering Perfectionist and Mama of Three:
lend warmth to simplicity.
give your daughter white chalk
give your son freedom for activity
to your baby give a long, loving gaze.
introduce them to me so they can practice.
for you, I am a guide to life’s happiest treasures
for children, I come in the form of genuine exploration
bring them outside while the leaves are turning and falling.
make your life as simple as possible, but no simpler than that.
i'm not a fan of addition, so the symbol makes no difference to me.
by all means, keep your children if they are purposeful or beautiful.