I read an article some time back about a young man who had pared his belongings down to just fifteen things. Everything that he owned fitted neatly into a regular-sized backpack, including his clothing and shoes. He said that he had never felt so free. He spent his life travelling and blogging.
This got me thinking about everything that I own. I have often referred to myself as a minimalist because I own only basic furniture and very few knick-knacks. I also own very few appliances and gadgets, but I certainly have many more than fifteen items.
After thinking about it for a while and taking a wander around my house, I've come up with a list of fifteen possessions that I couldn't – or wouldn't - live without, (not counting the roof over my head or my dog, who is more of a companion than a possession.) This is a good exercise for us all to do.
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Of course, this list is somewhat unrealistic given that I would be rattling around in an almost empty house and my family would think I've gone completely mad. I also have to meet a certain dress code in my job so I need to own more clothing than that. It would also mean that I would be spending a lot more money on things like eating out or take-away. Add to that some basic comforts like deodorant, hair-brush, make-up, a washing machine, an iron – and the list gets bigger and bigger.
A quick count of my bookshelves reveals that I own about three hundred books and I don’t think I’d want to part with any of them, or my hundred or so CD’s, or any of the gifts that family and friends have given me over the years.
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Minimalism isn't about fanatical purging of our possessions, or about depriving ourselves of pleasurable things. OK, I admit that I own a lot of books, but I treasure every one of them. They’re not hidden in boxes under the bed or stored in the garage. They’re proudly displayed in my living room as part of the décor.
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Minimalism means only owning things that you need or love, and about treating those things with the respect they deserve. If there comes a time when you feel that your possessions are becoming a burden, then maybe a little purging is needed, but the key here is knowing where to draw the line.