How you journey can say so much about you. Do you travel lightly or you carry a lot of baggage?
Traveling helped me realize that it’s possible to live with just the essentials. I can now travel from one country to another and have all the things I need fit in one tiny luggage.
I was 20 when one of my favorite female professors in French once told me that I was a minimalist. I never really understood the meaning of “minimalism” in my life until I graduated, experienced the real world and unconsciously threw myself into what we call the “rat race”-a constant struggle for success and purchasing power. I used to study full time and work full time. When I graduated, I had one full time job and one part time. In short, when it comes to working hard, I work like a horse. Grateful that somehow, being a minimalist was already in me and saved me from spending too much on things I didn’t really need but rather put the money in the right places.
Chasing money and being trapped in a consumer society must feel as suffocating and draining for anyone anywhere in the world. We get drowned by routine, too much work, and senseless drive to collect so many needless, superfluous possessions to create an impression of success and happiness. Most people feel that void that no amount of material possession can fill.
So if it’s too complex to change the situation entirely, how do we start a new beginning? We start simply by looking inward, by slowly changing ourselves and we’d be surprised at how different the outside world becomes.
Less is more.
I don’t mean we have to be complacent. I don’t mean we don’t work diligently for our hearts´desires. But instead, while we work diligently for our passions, we can be content and pleased with things that are vital . Getting ourselves detached from worldly pursuits will, in return, give us enormous freedom.
Vocabulary.com indicates that a person is a minimalist, if their interest is in keeping things very simple. A minimalist prefers the minimal amount or degree of something (well, talking about the material things at least ;-)). If you consider wanting to be one, then start by making necessary adjustments in order to accommodate the essentials and get rid of the excess. Maybe start with your wardrobe. If you are not sure how to do this, try traveling solo. You will learn to focus in the present moment and make it a habit to reflect more often and get rid of excessive stuff both in your hands and in your head.Your solitude during your travels will teach you about “insight”. You will get to know yourself, will treasure experiences rather than things and realize even more that what really matters are not the ones that you can count.
As I grew older and wiser (I hope) and with my solo travelling experiences, my precious solitary moments gave me enough time for introspection. What does freedom really mean to me? Who are the people that bring value to my life? How can I bring value to others?
The answer was embracing a minimalist perspective. Minimize everyday spending on expensive coffee, minimize shopping on bags, jewelries, clothes, gadgets, and more. I give away things that I don´t need to others. I prefer not owning a car and would rather hire one when I really need it, or commute and go biking instead. I even had to turn my attention to how I carry my hair. I didn’t cut my hair very short and shave the sides of my head just for fashion. It’s a statement and a reminder to myself that like the monks, I am a woman of serenity and simplicity.
I believe that as caretakers of our planet, we should allot more time for creating instead of consuming. Our Mother Earth has finite resources and we need to be mindful of the way we consume food, air and water. The practice of minimalism is one way to help when we minimize instead of consuming these resources to the fullest. I can understand if some people find this practice easier while the rest, most likely, will find it difficult. It’s a challenge to put it into constant practice because you will need to learn unwavering awareness and mindfulness, not just of your thoughts but also of your actions until it becomes a default mindset and it feels natural to you.
We have to understand that because of social pressure and influences, we all carry a default setting that makes us lean towards materialism, impulsive buying, and consumerism which is a tough cycle to beat. This default setting can be engraved in the unconscious combined with marketing and advertisement strategies that are just impressively persuasive.
Minimalism is not about deprivation though. I don’t mean to sound hypocritical and I am not convincing you to go and live in the middle of a forest in a tiny little hut and not buy anything pricey. If you can afford and need a TIMEX watch as an athlete for its functionality and quality (I have one and it’s really good), do buy yourself one. If you feel that investing in your one and only expensive bike is necessary and you have enough resources, then save for it and buy one. If you need a car or a place to call home, by all means. But come to think of it, if you don’t need two cars, why have three?
Minimalism is such a wonderful life experience. Consider not putting your happiness on things but rather on the immaterial and the necessary. It’s a new perspective in giving priorities to the things (and also people) that add value to our lives.
Just as I only bring with me the essentials that I use when I leave to travel, I also do the same in my everyday life wherever I am in the world.
So ask yourself next time before you go buy something. Do you really need it?
Have a safe and light journey ahead
Published by Lot Ramirez