Next week will mark the official end of spring and the beginning of summer. In many ways, this transition feels like a faint line in the sand in my home state of Florida. The kids are already out of school since the end of May. The sun didn’t get the message that it should wait to try and cook us like eggs in a cast iron skillet. The one activity that feels rooted in spring tradition that’s still ongoing in my life is decluttering or “spring cleaning”.
With a large family, such as ours, the flow of items into the home is enough to cripple someone trending more and more minimalist over time. We try to guide our kids towards healthy relationships with things. The world we live in today is wrought with a constant consumption mindset. Storage facilities continue to pop up at alarming rates. Already oversized homes are pushed to the brink with things. Garages are no longer places to park cars, but rather a morgue of impulse buys or items which no longer fit whatever a consumerism curated version of happiness fulfills.
While minimalism in design has always been something I’ve appreciated, the older I get the more I lean into applying concepts of minimalism to other areas of life. This isn’t with the goal of having a certain quantity of items, but rather is part of a broader life theme I’ve come to frame as “Refinement & Distillation”. I’ll use other longer form vehicles than this newsletter to talk more about that soon.
The key difference is that minimalism is often, generally speaking, primarily focused on only the concept of less. While less is certainly a component of the journey I’m on, the flip side of the quanity coin is quality. To reduce with only quantity in mind feels half-hearted. To quote Dieter Rams (yet again), I’m going for a “less, but better” outcome. This extends beyond physcial goods or belongings. It applies to digital assets. Digital presense. The footprint of all things in my universe of existence. Relationships, thoughts, obligations, feelings, motives, opinions… the list goes on. While I’m far from a Zen Monk sitting in silence, mindful of all that exists around them, I’m on a journey.
If one were to zoom out, how I got here would look like a splintered and fragmented maze of paths; many leading nowhere or in circular motions without the respect for forward progress. While that may sound negative, it isn’t. In order to refine and distill, you have to have something to eliminate. What comes from that process has the opportunity to be greater than what could have been from a smaller set of inputs.
Consider a beautiful Bonsai tree. The only way it could get to that point of beauty is to have had branches and growth to prune away.