By way of mindful living, simplicity and minimalism have become bywords of a groundswell across the world to downsize and jettison clutter and unused material things. It seems to me that we are creatures of acquisition, we have to have stuff, but in the end it becomes dissatisfying, and we feel an urge to get rid of stuff, to downsize, simplify, minimalise.
In the 1970s came the BBC TV series ‘The Good Life’ a rollicking comedy, but with a serious undertone, that captivated many, and has inspired several generations to attempt a little of what they modelled. It’s a great story about Tom and Babara Good – Tom quits what he experiences as a meaningless job, and they put their middle class life behind them to live self sufficiently. It fed into permaculture, backyard farming and whole range of styles.
In the 90s Sarah Ban Breathnach published the beginning of a series of books called simple abundance. It was part of a worldwide movement at the time to downsize and take time. It wasn’t so much about self sufficiency as simplifying life. The movement was criticised as being popular among the wealthy who could afford to buy land in rural areas and drop out part time. For some, ironically, it proved to be expensive to live simply.
In more recent years there has been a plethora of movements and leaders in the art of simplifying life.
The Minimalist Guys (https://www.theminimalists.com/game/ ) would be well known I’m sure. Their trademark is the the 30 Day Challenge. It’s game of throwing out (well giving away, donating, selling, etc.) what you are not using. The number items you throw out corresponds to the numerical value of the days in the month. So, Day one, throw out one item, Day two, throw out two items. By the time you get to Day thirty – thirty items (some friends of mine chose make that the day to toss out old mugs and cups), so a real challenge. There are many others now advocating the simple life, and with refreshing ideas on how to do it, like Lorilee Lippincott at https://lovingsimpleliving.com or the collective at www.anunclutteredlife.com .
Another way is the Small or Tiny House movement across several nations.
It is very slowly catching on in some shires in Australia, but some shires are resisting or refusing to engage with this. Ironically, one of the issues is the cost in scaling down products for a small home. Some are on wheels, which gets around some regulations in various shires, as these are deemed moveable and impermanent. Local government can be weird about progress (but I’ll leave that for a rant later).
For many, these movements can be about gaining perspective, order, peace, and a mindful lifestyle. To undertake any of these simplifying ways helps the environment by reducing our carbon footprint, and the sheer materiality of our lives. Simplifying is a body, mind, soul, nature experience. I can’t argue with it, I believe we’re over-sized on every level as it is. It’s very hard to let go of stuff, but let go we must for the sake of ourselves, each other, and nature too.