At first I was intrigued as I read an article on the BBC about today's minimalists who are getting rid of their things and living in sparsely equipped apartments. I was attracted to the idea of shedding stuff and perhaps gaining new spiritual insight through the discipline of reduction.
I'm keenly tuned to my own attachment to things because I'm a person who has had to pack and unpack it all one too many times. Things, things, things. I've moved them between 6 countries on 3 continents. I've also gone through a house fire which took most everything I had of material value. Topping it off, I live in a developing country that reveals my standard of simplicity as relative. I live simply compared to some friends in the States. I live like a flippin' crazy person compared to most Africans. I know full well that my local friends think we're nuts to "need" all of this.
So I was interested in this cult of less, as the BBC called it. I was kind of hoping for an insight that would help nudge me toward being able to lighten the cargo more readily. But I was disappointed. The minimalists turned out not to be very minimal at all. Sure, they have less physical stuff, but they're building up a warehouse of technology all stored in their laptops. They have gadgets and gizmos galore, as Ariel sang, only it's all inside their Macs. I'm sorry but it seems to me that they are still driven by the urge to own, the need to posses. Owning a technology isn't that much different than owning a "hard copy" of something else. The obsession with the latest application or plug in or WHATEVER mirrors any shop-till-you-drop mall crawler out there.
And I believe we're often worse off for being so heavily wired to the cyber universe. The impact of everyone being tied to their computers and glued to their screens is no small thing. Relationships as well as the ability to experience solitude suffer. What's more, materialism or pride in possessions is just as poisonous whether the thing I "own" is made of solid materials or made of electronic impulses and a lot of crazy code.
I'm not out to reduce my home to a monk's quarters, but I am looking for more of the freedom of simplicity in my life. I just don't want to be duped into thinking I've found it if my treasures are out of sight.