Friday, November 9, 2012

From splurging to purging

You cannot dream yourself into a character: you must hammer and forge yourself into one.    -
Henry David Thoreau

I don’t like white walls. Though minimalism is endearing to me in all ways, when it comes to my living space, I need color. I have lived within white walls for a long time. I did not have a choice then. But when I did have the freedom to do whatever I wanted within my space, I went all out. Whenever anyone steps into my home for the first time, the first thing they exclaim is ‘Your place is very cheerful!’. Sometimes I wonder if it is a polite way of saying ‘What were you thinking?!’ But it doesn’t matter, because I love it. I love that whatever happens to be the weather outside, you can’t complain that it is dull and gloomy inside. Amid all the yellows, oranges and greens, there is no place for languor. Bedrooms are different though. The colors are much darker. So there is no jolt to the visual senses there. Though sometimes I do wish I had the same vibrant colors there too ..waking early would not be such a struggle (but that is a problem to be tackled in another post).

Now that I have indulged in all the colors of the rainbow in my home, I am ready to tone it down a bit, that is... if I have to. But I am not willing to go back to white. So that makes me our decisions reflect our choices, both past and present? If I had been given free reign on my living space earlier in my life, would I have had my fill of colors and would my tastes have evolved into something entirely different than what it is now? Maybe. And so it is with many things in my life.

A decade ago, I never imagined that I would ever be on a vegan diet. I took pride in the fact that I am game to eat anything that moved. But then, over the years, my thoughts changed and my awareness shifted. I had to work through the effects of an unhealthy diet on my body and mind. I had to make my choice, one meal at a time. But what would have been my choice if I had been forced to shun meat in my diet during my childhood and through adulthood. What would my current choice be if I was not given the freedom to indulge in my liking for meat? I am sure I would have complied as I am no rebel, but would I have relished my food as much as I do now? I wonder.

Minimalism is subjective. What I think is minimalistic might seem wasteful to someone with a more stringent approach. Most of the concepts of minimalism that I embrace now would not have appealed to me a couple of decades ago. I was already minimalistic in some ways then, but certainly not out of choice. It was mostly out of necessity. If I like to have just 7 outfits in my closet now, it is because I like it that way and not because that is all I can afford to own. So the cushion of affordability makes my minimalistic aspirations that much more easier.  

That makes me wonder again....(yes, I wonder all the time).... Is it easier to give up luxury when we have experienced it and known what it is all about? Or is it easier to not take that path having never known how it felt to splurge? Is it easier to know contentment when we have experienced plenty or is it easier to give in to resentment when our dreams have never been indulged? Is it easier to pare down when we think of a minimalistic lifestyle as a lofty ideal? I don’t know if there are any definite answers. But pondering on these questions has made me realize that I am glad to have known and experienced cluttered spaces, materialistic dreams and consumerist tendencies before consciously choosing the opposite way.

I  find that when we have a scarcity mindset, then greed becomes our natural inclination. It is after all survivalism. Hoarding is a choice we make out of fear. Be it time, food, money, lifestyle...whatever it is, it is never enough. So when I wonder (there I go again..) about why I am drawn to minimalism, I think it is to learn contentment. In every aspect of my life.

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