The Way Of Minimalism

I always imagined that losing weight would mean more…

More stamina, more energy, more activity, more doing and being.

But I’m wondering if that will turn out to be wrong, and I’m actually going to end up with less, not more. Less multitasking, and more single focus. Less activities and more of myself invested in just a few things. Life moving slower, much, much slower.

Minimalism has gotten my attention lately – a movement toward less. Less things, less clutter, less purchasing, less maintaining the stuff that crowds my life, less complications, less stress. A sustainable life that doesn’t depend on both of us bringing in as much income as possible to keep afloat in the raging tide called the American dream.

But minimalism isn’t just about material goods. It translates into all areas of life – schedules and involvement, task lists, online connections, distractions, hobbies, pursuits, dreams, goals – all can be brought into a minimalist view of the world. Multitasking is laid aside, to gain instead an opportunity for single-focus, to pursue one thing at a time with complete clarity and purpose. The tyranny of the urgent loses its power when pressures and demands are reduced to the needful, the joyful, and the things that truly matter to your heart. When you no longer strive to be all things to all people, you have an opportunity to become a few things with clarity and joy.

Life has become slow for me, and it needs to remain that way. Living my new life requires discipline, focus, and careful maintenance. Allowing the noise and chaos that we call “life” to rule my attention could cause the work of living this new way to falter or fail. As Vicki has reminded me, my new life is my job, my occupation, and it has priority. Not just now, while it’s fresh and new, but from now to always. This is how I live, this is what I do.

And minimalism fits so well into this new life. Think of everything I’ve cast aside already – 161 pounds, diabetes, high cholesterol, sleep apnea and CPAP, knees that won’t support my weight… sounds like I’m already on the path of minimalism and didn’t know it.

In December, I packed up my leather carving tools and supplies (all that would fit in the car, anyway – the rest will go in a future trip) and passed them on to my nephew. Honestly, as I put the tools in a box I had some doubts – should I keep them? Will I be sorry that I gave up leather work? Will I miss it?

Answer: nope. The leather bench has become a place to work wire, and I’ve done more wire bending in the last month than I had the previous 6 or so. I like leather, but I LOVE wirework, and love the jewelry pieces that come out of it. And my nephew is already working on new pieces, amazing pieces with the tools he needed to move his leather craft forward by leaps and bounds. Minimalism gave me the kick I needed to move those tools to a place where they will be used and will produce amazing work. And it gave me the space I needed to advance my own creative work.

When I first woke up in my hospital room after the surgery (yes, I’ve told you this story before…), about two hours after arriving in my room, and finally fully conscious, these words were the first that came to my mind…

“My chains are gone – I’ve been set free.”

Minimalism reminds me of how many chains were holding me, and how many chains God has shattered – never to bind me again. Life is being reduced – slowly – to what really matters. As I spend this month thinking and writing, I’m taking stock of things that should stay, and things that need to go. Activities, possessions, pursuits, thoughts, outlooks, habits, perceptions – some will go, some will stay. New ones might be added, but if so, they will be added because there’s space and a specific place for them.

In this year, some things that I “always” do will be done no longer. Some pursuits that I took up because they seemed good at the time will be laid aside, so that the ones that really have my heart and my focus can flourish. The priorities are shifting, the worldview is refocusing and the result will be less… and so much more.

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