The Uncomfortable Side of Minimalism

Minimalism can be uncomfortable, especially at first. It isn’t easy letting go of stuff you love, like a special dress worn to a wedding, or a framed photo that once graced a wall.

I’ve had many uncomfortable moments since I started exploring minimalism. Like the day I decided to sort through my children’s old cards.

I pulled out the suitcase stuffed beneath the guest room bed. Piles of cards, tied together in silk ribbons, were placed inside. In another little box were necklaces, pins, and magnets, created and glued by little hands.

I hadn’t seen these items in years, and had, in fact, forgotten I had them. That day as I sifted through the cards, I got a funny kind of twinge in my stomach, that combination of guilt, nostalgia, and letting go, the kind of twinge only a parent understands.

Papers with scribblings and misspelled words, pictures of a child’s interpretation of what a mom and dad look like. Tiny wooden magnets colored with crayon. Plastic beaded necklaces on a string. Memories of childhood, of little ones now grown.

I sifted through the cards, one by one reminded of when my children were little. I couldn’t throw them away, at least not all of them. A few cards were dropped in the recycling bin, the rest placed back in the suitcase. I cried. What if my memories disappeared with the cards? But that’s not what happened.

Memories flooded back, one after another, and not one of them was related to the stuff inside that suitcase. I remembered Christmas programs, a shy boy in front of a microphone; I recalled a son with grasshoppers in his backpack, and how he proudly displayed them to me when he got home from school; camping trips, and tiny feet learning to walk; memories I thought were long gone.

A month later, a few more cards were placed in the bin. And once again, tears were shed. But like before, memories came tumbling back.

The more I let go, the stronger my memories became. It’s as if they’d been stuffed inside a suitcase. I guess I’d relied on my stuff to create my memories, when truth is, my memories were inside in me all along.

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2 thoughts on “The Uncomfortable Side of Minimalism”

    1. Bittersweet works for me! I totally get it. Letting go feels so good and so horrible, all at once. Let me know when you revisit those boxes. I’d love to hear about it.

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