You might see me some random Saturday morning, carrying out a bag of old clothes from my house, with a spring in my step, on my way to donate it to Salvation Army. You see, I get a real thrill when I clear my clutter, simplify, let things go. But, ironically, I also get a thrill out of acquiring new things that hold the promise of helping me to simplify and organize (which pretty much means that I'm every marketer's dream)! It's a contradiction that I continually face in myself and that I struggle with.
Then, I read this article and it grabbed my attention because it puts a slightly new twist on the subject of living a more minimalist lifestyle; an approach that I find exciting. The author challenges us, "to go deeper, not wider" and to consider using what we have already, diving into the corners of our homes and our lives and exploring what resources are already available, before we rush out to buy the latest shiny, new thing. And anyone who knows me well, knows that new, shiny things are very seductive for me. I love the smell of a new book, the crispness of a new white shirt, even a new food item that holds the promise of good health. However, this article reminds me that my approach is often the easy (albeit more expensive and wasteful) way out.
We're not just talking about the stuff we own, but also the many projects, hobbies, activities we start. How many times have you begun something new (learning a language, playing a musical instrument, doing a particular type of physical exercise) and quit when it got hard, or more to the point, became boring? "When newness is always available, it's easier to seek more of it than to actually engage with a tricky chord change, the dull sections in Les Miserables, or the dozens of ugly roses you need to paint before you get your first good one."
For me, I think the best way to begin the challenge of "going deeper, not wider" is to look at some areas of my home where I have excess - clearing out my pantry and finding the forgotten (but perfectly good) food, or using the dozens of half empty containers of shampoos and conditioners under the bathroom sink before I buy more, and perhaps looking through my own bookshelves when I want to find something new to read. Perhaps after that, I'll feel ready to try a "depth year", a year-long hiatus from starting anything new.
The article concludes, "so unless we're locked up in a room with only a piano and a pile of Tolstoy, .... we need to find a way to put up our own limits. When we give ourselves fewer places to dig, we go deeper, and what we uncover is more rare and valuable than the usual stuff near the surface."
Is there a way that you're willing to "go deeper" in your life?