Minimalism

I am not a Minimalist. It’s another of my life’s oxymorons. Clean lines, order, function…in art it inspires calm and diminishes chaos. Anyone who knows me knows I could use a dose of diminishing chaos. And yet, I’m the artist who puts right in the center of a clean line a giant paisley swirl. I think if my flat were minimalist, I’d feel all the more dismantled because it would echo a fraudulent perspective, setting up all these false expectations to color within the lines.

I’m not a Materialist either. I’m the one they talk about when they say “we’re one paycheck away from living in a cardboard box.” Frugal by necessity and yet still not a minimalist. Thrift stores, five and dimes, co-ops, yard sales, I pour over them, thrive on them, make up stories for all the inanimate objects I pick up, who used them, who sold them. Every atom has a history. I wax over full moons and pastoral scenes, believe in things I can’t see and simultaneously don’t believe anything until I see it. Until a few months ago I didn’t know the difference between a twitter and a tweet.

And certainly anyone who knows me well would never describe me as practical in the standard sense. I lead with my spirit, my sixth and colloquial senses. 

So when this week I made the important decision somewhat on a whim while sitting in my car during lunch to cancel my cable and downgrade my Internet speed, even I was perplexed with me. What a minimalist, practical thing to do. It’s too dang expensive, I hardly watch any TV given that I work around the clock and have a preschooler, and I cut my monthly bill by more than half. I now have a handful of cash to spend on other bills or (lo!) a dinner out with my beloved or save for travel or sundries.

But the self-proclaimed nonmaterialist almost wanted to weep. So am I then materialistic or is every non-third-world-country human hardwired to have a smidge of materialism in her DNA having subconscious messages flung at us daily? I think it speaks to more of an existential dilemma in that it may have been the last vestibule of not living in a cardboard box.

But this downgrade is a choice. And not because I want to give it all up and be a Sherpa, but I do want to live, I want to show my son the world and give him opportunity; I want to travel and write and fall in love and go hiking and camping and read and cook and learn things I never thought I could learn. And this may be the most practical thing I think: Money buys opportunity. Not the big-screen TV, but freedom. If money were no object, we each could name dozens, thousands, of things we might create. A 24-hour daycare for blue-collar single mothers, a refuge for abused children and an out for abused mothers, a small press from which all proceeds go to mental illness research, entering a Zen monastery, taking sabbatical at an Italian monastery, health care, dental fillings, making pilgrimage on the Road to Santiago, opening a mini mart that sells things at below cost, watching the neighbor’s children for free, giving your neighbor groceries, making pies for homeless shelters, spending weeks and months writing short stories and essays and poems, opening a writer’s studio to read/display/perform words.

These things cost money because they cost time. Always the conundrum, if you have the time you don’t have the money and when you have the money you don’t have the time. C’est la vie.

But at least I can try: she may never had a penny in her pocket, but she always held life to her heart in a locket.

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Erin said,

    I haven’t popped in for awhile, but loved that entry!
    love u magdelana 🙂


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