My Dad was a minimalist before it was cool, before there was a movement and a name for it. (There was one exemption from his campaign of what we’d now dub “de-cluttering.” He had so many books they would end up in rows two or three deep on every bookcase, and stacked in teetering towers around his chair and bed. But I digress.)
I remember him ranting about the stupidity of any and all single-purpose kitchen appliances: mixers, cookers, choppers. Who needs a special vegetable slicer or a garlic press or a nut chopper when you have a decent knife and a bit of finesse? Who needs a toaster when you can make whole batches of toast in the oven? For years, Mom hinted at getting a rice cooker: with eight kids and a tight budget, we went through a lot of rice. But Dad pointed out that we had perfectly good pan and a stove.
A few years ago, just before Dad arrived for a visit, I picked up my first electric tea kettle. I remember thinking I should hide it, because I was afraid Dad would point out how unnecessary it was given that a pan on the stove did pretty much the same thing. But I forgot to hide it, and to my surprise, he didn’t scoff. In fact, to my surprise, he confessed to giving one to a brother for Christmas, and admitted to loving his own.
There’s a level of minimalism I don’t care to achieve, even if it might mean clear counters and a kitchen I could fit in a box. I love my kettle. And my rice cooker means I never have to deal with cooked-on rice or carefully watching a timer. I wouldn’t care to go without my marvelously hands-off Instant Pot pressure cooker.
I’m also not going to pare down to six inter-matchable outfits and two pairs of shoes, or a single pen and pencil. Minimalism at that point is a hobby, and I prefer my cluttered writing/drawing/music making hobbies, in spite of the stuff that comes with them.
I don’t have enough enthusiasm about having little to get down to what I could fit in a suitcase, though I have a certain admiration for those who do. I’ve reached a point where I like certain things around to make life more comfortable, even if it means my kitchen will never be perfectly Instagram-able and my desk will remain a bit cluttered.
But–and I know this has been a morbid theme of mine all year, so bear with me–I again and still feel it would behoove me to reach a point where at least what I have, bountiful though it may be, makes sense. If I was to get hit by a bus tomorrow, would my family have to wade through meaningless flotsam just to find the key to the garage? Would they know where to find the cats’ medical records? How much time would they have to spend going through the odds and ends in the garage I was planning to deal with “eventually?”
Or would they at least find my too-many inks and pencils and notebooks in one place, my important papers and keys in a logical spot, and maybe even a list of bills and contact numbers?
I guess that’s one of my goals for winter, provided I don’t get by a bus first. I did do a certain amount of paring down this spring, but there’s still some excess, and things are still out of order. My goal is more “turnkey” than “minimalism.” Stuff doesn’t bring happiness, but some stuff is still pretty fun, and I’m OK with that.