What is minimalism?

I was at a local tarot event and the topic turned to integrating philosophical traditions into tarot. Naturally, I talked about my blog (yes, I shamelessly self promote) and the series I’m doing on the minimalist messages in the cards. One of the people there asked me a question I take for granted: “What is minimalism?”

Honestly, I was a bit speechless; not because I didn’t have an answer. Rather because I know what’s in my head and forget that other people aren’t in there too. I can’t remember exactly what I said but it was something along the lines of this:

For me, minimalism is about cutting the clutter from your life so that you can live more meaningfully and authentically.

That’s my definition. But what does it mean?

Everyone is going to have their own definition of minimalism; what works for me, isn’t going to work for you. I’m a huge fan of technology and have no problem with having on e-books; others might need the musty smell of an old book. There is no right way to do minimalism, it’s about finding what works for you and going with it.

Minimalism isn’t about only have 100 possessions (for me that is unrealistic). But it is about cutting out the “clutter”. It’s about getting rid of the papers that I don’t look at 10 minutes after they get into my apartment or the movies I haven’t looked at in 5 years or the books that I bought that I swore I would read someday (and then never did). Or that pair of pants that don’t really fit right and will only where them when there is literally nothing else. Or getting rid of that CD that I have on my computer and can’t find the case to. It’s about eliminating the things we just keep because we’re too afraid to get rid of them.

Over the last couple months, I have been purging the excess. Whether it is books, DVDs, paper, or random stuff that I carried, I’ve gotten rid of them. While I did this, I was able to find a tarot deck that I am falling in love with (again) and I found a deck that I never actually used and will probably sell. It takes me less time to clean because I don’t have as much to worry about. (Since I have nothing on the flat surfaces, I can whip them down in about a minute). I’m working on getting rid of my carpets to enjoy the hardwood floors and then eliminate the need for weekly vacuuming.

Outside of scaling back cleaning, I’m happier. I’m better able to prioritize things at work (I’ve also taken to eliminating anything that I don’t use every day from my office or that I legally have to keep). I am more focused on what really matters (like sleep, I’m finding I really like this sleep thing people keep talking about) and I can be true to who I am and what I want out of life.

Yes, this post is not so much about tarot. But when we cut the excess stuff from our lives we are true to who we are. When we do that, we can pursue our passions. Tarot, like minimalism, helps us to navigate the waters of life.