When Minimalism Goes too Far

The other day, I met a friend of a friend and took delightful advantage of her Chicago rooftop. The three of us, along with several in-and-out neighbors from the building, sipped Frosé and watched illegal fireworks explode against the sunset.

Friend of a friend (FOAF) casually mentioned her impending divorce. She was almost too nonchalant about it, and my inquisitive nature just couldn’t drop it.

“So … the divorce. You’re okay, then?”

FOAF sighed, then dove into the story of how her soon-to-be-ex husband had gone on a bit of a minimalist purge lately. I perked up – I love a good decluttering challenge – but I wasn’t prepared for what came next. FOAF continued: Once the ex had reduced his material possessions, he started looking at his interpersonal relationships … and quickly realized he didn’t need his wife around anymore.

Wait. What?!

You know that tilted-head expression a dog makes when it’s trying to understand you? I couldn’t help it; that was my immediate reaction.

Though this man was still in love with FOAF, he asked for a divorce and sold his half of the condo back to her, to, I don’t know, be a hermit who reveled in self-imposed solitary confinement or something.

Right-Sizing Vs. Overcorrecting

In today’s go-go-go world, we’re taught to want more-more-more. We’re told we absolutely must keep up with the Jones’ – this is how the concept of credit became so ingrained in our culture (but that’s a rant for another day). Some opt into this thought, some never have, and some (like myself) are drifting away from it.

As a colleague once said when describing her venture into self-employment after years in the corporate world: “You’ve got to change how you think about money.” It’s true that the social pendulum is beginning to swing away from the McMansion lifestyle, but how far is too far? With the rise of Konmari and tiny houses, our reduced material responsibility is supposed to open us up to better-quality experiences and relationships, right? Now, I’ve cleared as many toxic relationships from my life as the next gal, but this fellow’s philosophy implies that at some point the people around us become merely objects to reduce/reuse/recycle. And I straight-up refuse to believe that.

Useful and/or Beautiful

Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. – William Morris

Definitions of the above concepts vary widely, but the general consensus is that if an idea/object/person adds value to your life, keep it the heck around. A friend, a belief, even a toaster can be incredibly useful, and add beauty to your life as well.

Of course my interpretation of the minimalist movement, as well as Mr. Morris’ wise words, is just one of many. Yours may differ. This man’s certainly does. And it makes me so, so sad.

My heart goes out to you, FOAF.

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