Minimalism invites us to step out of the consumer frenzy. Minimalism is a refusal to be bamboozled by sparkly ads or the impulse items glittering at the checkout stand. It’s about spending less, buying less, owning less. When you stop struggling to own the new house, the newest car, or the newest Apple gizmo, that’s minimalism. When you treasure time and people over possessions, that’s minimalism. When you quit wasting your mind-space on cheap shows and celebrity gossip, when you quit trading enjoyment for entertainment, that’s minimalism.
“Man, I see in Fight Club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see it squandered. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables – slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won’t. We’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”
– Fight Club (1999)
Minimalism is about simplicity. But more than that, it is about enough.
Minimalism and eating disorders? Is this just a shameless plug for some bizarre cult?
Eating disorders are hungry. Hungry for acceptance, for preciousness, for adventure, for love, for safety, for satisfaction. We are hungry for enough, but there’s never enough. Especially not at the bottom of a bag of potato chips or the toilet bowl or a minus ten pounds.
I love the chorus from this worship song,
“All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough”
Jesus is enough. He is enough. I no longer need bulimia. I don’t need to cope with the mess. I have a Savior who rescues me from the mess. He can satisfy that deep screaming that sends me blind and weeping over the toilet bowl, mouth bulging with food I can’t even taste, vomit stinging my nose. He can satisfy the thirst for purity and new beginnings that sends me off into the world of fasting and exercising and dieting. He is bigger. And his satisfaction is ever so much better. Because though I have to return again and again to the euphoria of bingeing and purging, again and again to the new beginning of a weight loss regime, with one word from Jesus I am utterly complete. Love.
A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, “Would you give me a drink of water?” (His disciples had gone to the village to buy food for lunch.)
The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.)
Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”
The woman said, “Sir, you don’t even have a bucket to draw with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this ‘living water’? Are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob, who dug this well and drank from it, he and his sons and livestock, and passed it down to us?”
Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”
The woman said, “Sir, give me this water so I won’t ever get thirsty, won’t ever have to come back to this well again!”
– John 4, The Message
Minimalists define their lives by this philosophy of enough, though their philosophy is not always rooted in Jesus Christ. Radical minimalists own 100 items or less, some of them even choose not to own a home. Another group uses minimalism as a tool to look at their lives and their culture with fresh eyes and to separate themselves from the hubbub of consumerism – the more more more newer newer newer philosophy. They don’t use minimalism as a label, and they own more than 100 things, but they understand there is a time for enough.
What are you willing to explore?
Here are some incredible sites to tease and appease your curiosity:
Castles in the Air: make sure to check out Nina Yau’s archives, she has some powerful posts on minimalism.