I started my minimalism journey two months ago with gusto, letting go, thanking, and sending to a brighter future around 40% of everything which had been in my possession. After two-weeks intense work I was excited to wake up and see the transformation, and yet part of me felt I had barely made a dent in my tiny room.
So then I started looking around and projecting all the other things I could let go of, each of these things I loved and treasured – and used--
At which point I reluctantly stopped myself in my tracks.
Did I really yearn for an aesthetic lifestyle or what was it that I really wanted?
I sat myself down to really think about and analyse this question in my life.
Which is something we should really all take time to do, because too often we latch onto something as the ‘saviour’ - the ultimate solution to our every problem and when we actually get there we feel just as lost and empty as before. Just with much less stuff in this case.
I could feel myself very easily latching onto that direction almost like a metaphorical anorexic but in relation to things where unwittingly could find myself in an endless cycle of trying to purge ever more.
In which case the process takes control of our mind and we never actually reach our destination.
And so, pen in hand, I sat and reflected.
What it was I wanted was not specifically having little or no things, but rather clarity or space in the chaos of my life, in the chaos of my mind.
A grounding point where at least something made sense.
I had noticed that as I had gone through the initial ‘purge’, allowing myself to let go of, or ‘send to a better future’ (I’ll discuss this specific idea in a future writing) belongings which I had held on to for sentimental or emotional reasons, I also felt a symbolic releasing of some of the painful episodes in my past. Which in itself felt good, felt liberating, and is something I plan to delve into further during this year’s journey.
An additional thing I noticed just this morning:
The last two days I admit I let my space get in a mess again. Though quite honestly when you live in the space of a postage stamp, just dropping your trousers on the floor can immediately give this sensation. But in any case it was a mess and there was more than a pair of trousers blocking the view of my floor lol. Except this morning, instead of my habitual reluctance to get up and tidy up, I actually got up pretty briskly and got straight into it. And in less than twenty minutes everything was in its place again and here I am with the clarity and space to sit and write and feel somewhat productive.
Which brings us to the initial concept mentioned in the title:
The One-Space Effect of Minimalism.
And it’s the idea of instead of wanting every single aspect of your life, your space to be perfect – and being disappointed and feeling defeated when you don’t achieve that (which can spark an incessant cycle of purging) – it can be far more objective to start with one space.
We can call it our grounding point, our clear space.
That space for me is my desk.
My desk also has it’s story.
It came from the trash, lost and abandoned and I remember going to find my neighbour late at night: ‘Guess what I found!’ and the two of us went through the dark streets to carry this ‘unwanted one’ home.
It is not the first time I have refurbished things designated as ‘trash’. Usually I bring them back to their former glory, sanding, waxing and letting the natural wood shine.
This time though, due to lack of tools and more notably space (anyone who has ever sanded old furniture will know all too well that the dust literally goes everywhere, even with a sanding bag) so I decided to just give her a good clean, and a light sanding. Until I spied a container of white Gesso paint I had bought for priming my canvases, and suddenly she was painted white, top and sides.
A white space.
Symbol of clarity.
My floor may have books on, but my desk, if it is clear, I am ready to start work.
Laptop, mouse, glass of water on white space: clear to start writing.
A plate of food and glass of water on white space: I can eat mindfully and with pleasure.
A sheet of paper, my coloured pencils and my camera above: I am ready to start filming.
Clear distinct activities.
And each distinct because every item has it’s own space or home to go back to at the end of each activity.
I wonder why I have not thought of this before.
Years of watching something while I eat, then being too distracted and absorbed to pay attention to how much I was eating, and too engaged to want to complete the activity by something as simple as getting up to go wash my plate and putting it back in its space.
This morning clean up was so fast because I no longer had to decide where to put anything and make it look nice. Why, because that decision had already been made weeks ago in giving each item its own space, its own home.
I never realised before how exhausting that thought process alone can be and it can be a pleasure to have some activities we can do in life without intense thought.
It’s true that my space does not match what I might dream it could look like, but achieving every day (or near enough lol) a space that feels an element of order, that I know within a few moments chaos can be restored to order (and this with little thought or taxing brain process), this alone has given me a significant feeling of clarity, of space and of control in my life.
The One-Space concept can in fact be looked at in two ways: the concept of one space for each item, and the concept of having a grounding space.
The former is obvious, the latter is the one we should strive for.
It is the one which gets to the heart of what we are really aiming for in life.
And also the stark reality of life.
No matter how much stress and anxiety we can feel in life, if we can find a grounding point in our life, this in itself can help to navigate the tornado of chaos.
For some it can be a physical space, for others it can be a mental space, even a person in our life.
It’s a concept I am still exploring and these are simply my initial reflections. I do believe thought that having a physical space as a starting point can help in turn to articulate the mental space more clearly.
The chaos of life can often feel like we are in a tornado, or on a ship in a storm.
Jumping off or running into the storm will solve nothing or even worse.
Imagining we can stop or control that storm is often illusory in the short term or immediate.
And so this is where that concept of one-space comes in. Finding that space or moment that grounds us enough to feel a certain level of calm and clarity. Enough clarity to carry us through the storm until we either it stops or we can move to calmer waters.
Those are my reflections for today.
RZ 2022 01 08