Trial by fire: A personal story of minimalism…
For many years I have looked with awe upon those brave individuals attempting to simplify life through what is called minimalism. Over the years I have read countless books and watched numerous documentaries extolling the benefits of purging our life of material items and in turn distractions and conveniences of life that detract from what is really important. Although fascinated with the concept and practice I shelved the dedicated practice as one I could not afford to investigate at the present time. As a single mother attending college at 47 with 3 teens still at home I figured my life was simply complicated enough without out stirring the pot. Additionally, given the fact that we live on an income of under $ 800 a month how much more could we really cut. However there are those times the universe steps in and allows you to investigate options you may have been afraid to try before. This is the case for me and my family
It all started three months ago one balmy, summer day.
A fire of undetermined origin started under the deck of the rental trailer I’d moved to when returning to college. Dry conditions from the lack of rain in the Midwest sparked a fire of unknown origin driven by 45 mile an hour winds the side of the house went up in less than 5 minutes. In the house at the time we barely escaped with our lives. The fire was devastating in its destruction of our personal property, destroying everything we owned through either the heat or smoke damage. I and my children escaped with the clothes on our backs, and a laptop but most importantly our lives. After a crisis of this magnitude one finds themselves reassessing life. The source of the fire was never determined insurance pay outs stalled and forced to move into 2 bedroom trailer we had no choice but to judge every item with a critical eye. Personally, I realized how many of the possessions we owned were inconsequential to my daily life and how much easier life actually is without them. From dishes to clothing I ruthlessly judged each new item brought into the house with an eye to storage and usefulness.
Given the lack of options interest in “Minimalistic living “was not only renewed but pursued at a near maniacal sense of need, I rediscovered the creative spark of ingenuity nurtured over the years as a mother of 6 proving the old adage: “necessity is the mother of invention”. I have redefined my definition of necessary and found ways to economize, and save I’d never considered. I have given up my high tech cell phone for a simpler model, unhooked the internet, switched to a grey water system, and made my own soap. I cut not only our monthly expenses to under $ 500 a month but learned the benefits of a simpler life.
Minimalism may not be for everyone, for instance my 3 grown children and teens think I am insane or at the very least going through some sort of post traumatic psychosis. However, I am finding that the simpler I make my life in the little ways, the more energy I have to devote to other pursuits. I find myself writing more, exercising more, spending more time with my family and friends. Additionally, my house is cleaner and more organized as is my life, hell my grades even improved. In fact, life has changed so dramatically for the better my devotion to minimalism has become a passion.
In the end, as with many major crisis’ in life , there can be found an equal measure of good and bad in any experience , if we look hard enough and accept the big and little disasters of life. Opportunities sometimes may only be considered when all other options are cut off. Lessons that allow us to view ourselves and the world in new and exciting ways that ultimately carry with it the hope of expanding our viewpoint to include options we may have not considered before.