I’ve done it multiple times, living out of a a suitcase or a backpack for multiple months. It takes preparation and a lot of thinking and choices to know what to pack. But once you get the hang of it, it turns out to be pretty easy, both the packing and the eventual living out of it. Even more so, you realise there’s not much that you miss.
According to The Minimalists (two guys who chose minimalism as their lifestyle and made a mission out of it to inform other people), this is the definition:
Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.
If you are interested in the topic, I recommend the documentary ‘Minimalism’ on Netflix. The lifestyle is gaining more and more popularity since we are starting to ask more questions about consumerism in our capitalistic society. I could tell you way more about this, but there is a lot of information out there already by people who are more experienced on than me.
Living out of a bacpack
To be clear: I’m not a minimalist (yet). However, the past four months, I lived out of a bacpack. Some might still call it big (there are people who travel with less), it’s a big downsize from living in a house with lots of closet space. Big surprise: I liked it, like a lot. Okay, to be honest, I would have liked to have a bit more clothing options sometimes – BUT, mostly, I didn’t miss a thing.
As you all know by now, Corona took over all of our lives and here I am, back in Belgium, living in a temporary appartment. Back to having room and closet space! I quickly passed by my parents house, to pick up some things to survive the quarantine (no worries, they made a nice package for me and we kept our distance) and headed to the space we could lend for a while.
I did not pick up a lot of stuff. What was it? An extra pair of shoes, more socks (I only had 4) and underpants (I only had 7) and an extra sweater and pants. That was it. Oh and some luxuries I can’t have while travelling: books, my yoga mat and a guitar.
So, we’re in lockdown for almost two months and I’m still kinda living out of my backpack. I know that it’s quarantine, so it’s not quite like real life, but I’m not missing anything.
I’m loving the fact that I have an overview of everything I have. I know exactly what’s in my closet, I know what’s in the little cabinet space we have here. In other words: I’m still living out of my bacpack – I simply moved it into a house.
I don’t know about you, but I find myself stressed with all that is offered ‘out there’. Even more so, now everything is online. The moment I open my socials, I’m suggested I might like to buy something. Worst thing about it is that I’m always interested at first and then I’m like: ‘No! Why?’ There’s sooo much out there and I often feel overwhelmed by it all! I want a new daycreme? THERE ARE OVER ONE HUNDRED OPTIONS! I never liked shopping for the same reasons: there is so much stuff.
Doing it with less
There is one thing I know for sure: I want less stuff. If I think about everything I own at home, it makes me nervous. Mostly because I know a lot of things are unnecessary. I know I sound a lot like Marie Kondo (who actually practices minimalism), but I find myself asking this question: “What sparks joy?” It might sound stupid, but it isn’t – because why would you have things that don’t make you happy?
Living in a house vs. living out of a backpack
Obviously, living in a house requires more things than life with a bacpack. There’s kitchen equipment, bedlinnen, towels. Life on the road isn’t always practical, one example: you have to wash your underpants and towel in between laundry to avoid running out of clean things. Also, I have an active job, so I change clothes more often, so I do need more than when I travel. So, life in Belgiums asks for more possesions.
But that doesn’t mean I have to consume blindly.
Your way of minimalism
There is a definition of minimalism, but there’s no right or wrong way to live it. The simple reason: different persons, different desires, different stuff that sparks joy. I know that I will keep collecting books and plants. Why? It makes me happy! It doesn’t make my life or house feel cluttered. On the contrary: if I see my books or plants, it makes me feel good. So yes, if – one day – you enter my house, you’ll see lots and lots of books and quite a few plants around. And without doubt, travel pictures and items I collected on my way around the globe. The goal is not to own as little as possible. The goal is to only own what you really want.
You want to be happy when you look around your home. You do not want to feel stressed or overwhelmed.
Where to start?
So, I decided for myself to consume more critically. To ask myself if I need it and if I really want it. I imagine owing it. How does it make me feel?
Honestly, I have no idea how this will go when diving back into (a Corona alterted version of) daily life. Life is way more busy then and as we all know, it’s not always easy to stay focused then. Before you know it, you are caught up in the quick treadmill of our society.
We are bombared by consumer propaganda. It might sounds exagerated, but open your socials, open the magazine on your table, on the radio, in the streets. Look around. That’s a start already: notice how much advertising is around. Ask yourself how it influences you. I mean, we’ve all mindlessly purchased something, afterwards wondering why we bought it. Don’t feel like you fail if you give in – advertising is catered to our minds. It’s created to manipulate you into buying. It’s not always a bad thing ofcourse, because we need things. We want options and it’s nice to be able to choose, but still – try to notice sometimes.
But – and it’s a big but: the intention is there. I know why I’m doing it and I know that I want it. There are so many positives (for me personally): less of an environmental impact, less spending, less clutter (both in my home and mind) and less pressure to buy.
So, since I know that writing down your goals helps you to clarify and follow them, here I am:
- Think about what you purchase. Do you need it? Do you really want it? Will owning it make you happy?
- Buy less and buy more ethical and ecological. (I’m doing this already, but there’s a lot of room for improvement).
I hope I can slowly make minimalism my lifestyle.
Or not. I might realize it’s not my way of life. We’ll see. The only thing I’m sure off: I want my home less cluttered, because it clutters my mind.
What do you think?