Imagine the quintessential caveman. What do you picture? I imagine animal hide clothes, fresh picked berries, dinner on a stick over an open fire.
How about during the Medieval Times. What do you see? A common family (not royalty) would have a small home. One plate, one cup per person. Small cots for beds. One or maybe two outfits per person.
Fast forward to the early 1900’s. More small homes, minimal belongings. I look back to my Grandma’s house and the few things she owned. Everything had a purpose, with a few special things added in. Most things were homemade. Most things were built to last. Excess was not really found.
Now lets shift out focus to today. I think the word “excess” can easily describe our world now, at least in developed countries. Closets that will barely close. Wardrobes full of fast fashion. Landfills overflowing with unwanted items.
I’m not saying this to shame anyone reading this. Its just meant to make you think. For all of human history, the bare basics are all that we have owned. One plate, one cup, one outfit per person. One pot to cook in. A tiny bed, just big enough to sleep in. Now we suddenly have access to an endless supply of plastics, factories, and machinery.
We can pump out paper plates, leggings and plastic toys like never before. We can buy them with pocket change. No longer do our kids need to scrimp and save their birthday money and do extra odd jobs to buy that desired toy, its no big cost to us now. And when it breaks, we’ll throw it away and buy a new one.
Gone are the days of handmade. Gone are the days of made to last. And if we do choose to buy those things, the cost is astronomical and we can’t imagine paying that kind of money. Today, we have the option to choose cheaper. To buy 5 things for the cost of 1. In the past this was not the case.
When I think of Minimalism, I don’t think of something trendy. I don’t think of a revolution. Rather, I think of jumping into a time machine and going back in time a few hundred years. To a simpler time.
Can you imagine what our ancestors would think if they if they time traveled to us? Would great-great-great-great-Grandma wonder WHAT ON EARTH we need 36 plates for? Or why we own 22 pairs of shoes? Or worst of all, why there are thousands of toys on the play room floor?
Can you imagine our oldest ancestors walking into our home and hear us complain about needing new couches or that TV’s are on sale for Black Friday?
Again, this isn’t meant to shame. Trust me, I have my share of excess. And this isn’t a lesson on privilege, even though that’s a big deal too. Its just an attempt to change the narrative. Instead of thinking of “getting rid” of things to be a minimalist, think about it as removing things we probably had no business having in the first place.
All this STUFF clogs us up as humans. It wears us out. It adds to our stress. Its not healthy. For all of time, prior to the last 100 years or so, we have lived with very little and its in our DNA. Its part of who we are.
No, my friends, minimalism is not a NEW thing. Its actually a very OLD thing. Its the ORIGINAL thing. And getting back to it is very much getting back to our roots.
I’m not advocating a pauper’s life. I’m not suggesting getting rid of all comforts of home. As a matter of fact, I’m not suggesting anything at all, except to consider that the way we live now is drastically different than we have lived for all of time.
Minimalism, in whatever capacity you are comfortable with, is a step in the right direction to living life the way we should. Its the original way of living. And it can help bring balance to your soul in a way nothing else can.