So you’ve been through the closets and the bookshelves. You’ve donated and sold and thrown away. You can find your batteries, your keys and the mates to all your socks. Are you asking yourself what’s next?
I have to tell you that this is both the good part, and the hard part.
Once you’ve finished the tasks at hand, room by room, you’ll probably start reassessing and getting rid of more stuff. It’s inevitable that you will look at everything with new eyes once the process is complete. You will find yourself working in areas you know you already covered and thinking, “Didn’t I just do this?” I’ve said it one hundred times this month, so here it is again: minimalism is a process. It is a process that will change you, and when it does, you will be a little bit addicted to the idea of less being more. Eventually though you have to stop giving away all the things lest your family put you on the curb too. Then what?
Do you realize that most people don’t know what to do with time when it’s not crammed to the gills? We’ve become too accustomed to always having five things clamoring for our immediate attention. It’s hard to believe that you will have time to do things that aren’t home maintenance related. This is the part that’s messy and a little scary. Maybe you start by reading a book for no reason, you know the one that sat on your bedside table for two years unopened and you still couldn’t bear to pass it on. Maybe you’ll take that photography class you’ve had your eye on for so long. Or you’ll become involved supporting a cause or organization which has tugged your heart for a long time. You’ll try things you don’t like, and you’ll surprise yourself by trying something you never thought you would do and loving it. You may try two or three things all at once and decide you don’t like any of them. This is normal. We’ve been so busy, we’ve forgotten how to be truly us. Living a life with time and space to grow and explore is a foreign concept. Sometimes, you might just sit and do nothing, though I wouldn’t admit it to many people. They might say you are lazy, or worse yet, crazy. No one sits around just doing nothing, or if they do they ought to find better use of their time and stop wasting their lives, little knowing stillness and doing nothing are two things that make up some of the richest moments of our lives.
These are the fun moments of rediscovering who we are and what we love. We’re finding the things we want to do and the person we want to become now that there is time for options.
Frustrating days will happen as well. Days like I had today where you run all over town, and your house feels like a cluttery mess (or as I like to call it, the pit of despair). You’ll still sometimes have baskets of laundry waiting and dishes in the sink. You’ll snap at someone because “you just don’t have time to do that right now.” Even when life has been refocused and relaxed, it’s still life. It can grab you by the heels before you even know it. There may even be seasons of time that you can’t seem to your breath or makes the pieces fit. You’ll wonder if you are doing something wrong. That’s normal too. Despite all the changes we’ve made so far, we still only have a very limited sphere of control in our lives. There are times when we have to grin and control the only thing we truly can, our response. The good news is once we’ve prioritized and minimized, life can usually regain its normal friendly flow with little effort on our part, once we’re through the rough patch.
Life after the work of minimalism is done isn’t all beach vacations and lazy afternoons, as much as I would like to tell you it is. It may look very similar to how you lived before, but with more space and less debt. Or, as you discover who you really are without all of the cultural expectations and wrappings placed upon your life, you may change everything entirely, moving homes and changing jobs, trying something completely different that fits you better than what you were doing before. Both of these experiences are completely normal as well. There isn’t a right or wrong path to take once you’ve gotten through the initial hard work. That’s part of the joy of the lifestyle, the freedom to choose whatever it is that suits you and your family the best.