I’ve picked up a lot of adjectives in the past few years; some fell into my life naturally, while other have always felt forced: labels I crammed into my life like a freshman comp. student piling up words to make up for lack of research.
I’m editing out the forced adjectives now, the ones I wear uneasily. The words that almost-but-don’t-quite fit.
All summer, but especially since my 35 birthday in August, I’ve been reflecting on life. On who I am and who I want to become. It’s been a lovely, fruitful time; I feel as though I’m reclaiming a lot of good and shaking off some misdirections.
I’ve also been reflecting on the discord in the world today – the way we throw up labels to rally behind and attack each other with. I’ve embraced some of those in the past, but many of them have left me cold in the past couple years. I’m re-examining them now and leaving many of them behind.
The label I’m editing out today is one I have a more complicated relationship with. I love and believe in so much it has to offer, but the word itself feels too constraining, too bound to curated images and false simplicity that I’m stepping out of it and back into a word I find more universal.
I am not a Minimalist.
But then, you probably knew that already!
Minimalism can feel so attractive. it gives that sense of stepping out of the consumerism of our culture and building sometime light and free; something refreshingly monastic. But as I pursued it, I found it building up in a me a less detached relationship to my possessions. My house was less of a cozy nest and more of a place of order, where table tops are clear and shelves lack the brightness of bottles, jars, and boxes.
I tried to re-write minimalism in my own image, but the word kept limiting me: Is it true minimalism when bright leaves cascade down the walls or the dresser-top is made into a tiny altar for the Infant of Prague?
I don’t want to be asking myself these questions. I want to be asking “is this beautiful? Is my house a fitting place for this items to rest on it’s journey through the world?”
Minimalism made me feel more attached to my things and less generous with them, less likely to send them off to new homes easily. So I’ve replaced it in my life with my beloved Cyganeria – artistic bohemian. Abundance, beauty, and the limitations of both poverty and transiance make this word ideal for every aspect of my life, but especially my home decor and personal style.
I feel at home in cyganeria, whereas I felt striving and uncertain in minimalism. So here I am again, home amidst the altars and scarves, books and papers of my beautiful home.
It’s still anti-consumerist.
Still determined to have a style chosen from the wide abundance of thrift stores, flea markets, and grandmothers’ attics instead of the socially acceptable and banal attempts at bohemianism cluttering up the shelves at box stores like Target.
But it isn’t minimalism. Not quite. It’s as intentional, but not quite curated enough. Life always intrudes, for which I’m eternally grateful.
** I would love to know your thoughts on minimalism, and whether you identify with this label or not! Please feel free to recommend books (podcasts and videos are less likely to be useful, I can’t stream on my little data plan, but recommend away!)**