The Accidental Minimalist

There is no denying that minimalism is on many people’s agendas right now. It is everywhere: in architecture, fashion, design, food and media.

My own adventure with minimalism began a good few years ago. It was intuitive to start with. I have always been one for a good spring clean. And over the years this annual ritual transformed from simply organising things to getting rid of them, in a meaningful way. I developed a rule of thumb that if I didn’t use something for 6-12 months, it was time for it to find a new home. Several clearouts later and my closet no longer had things that could be useful one day. Bye bye the sewing machine, the painting set, the juggling kit, the analogue camera and random bits and pieces. Instead I focused on things that served me in life – the outdoor kit, the stuff to make good food with, a few plants, my camera.

For sure there are many ways to go about minimalism. It could simply mean having a taste for sleek design, having less of something, or following the much celebrated Marie Kondo.

I had a chance to put my own approach to the test twice recently when moving a house. The first move happened 6 weeks after the arrival of our son and needless to say, it was a total fiasco. We were swapping a 1 bed city flat for a farm cottage. Without much of a headspace, if felt like a race against time – trying to load our friend’s van as quick as we can and worry about things later. Even though we had already gotten rid of unused belongings and sold all the furniture, I still felt uneasy about taking all that stuff with us purely out of habit and not out of purpose. I mean, who needs 20 tupperware boxes?

5 months later it was time for another move, this time to Sweden. With most of the packing taking place while the baby was asleep, it took a month to properly go through everything. It was time to step up a game and swap the question of do I need XYZ… to could I live without it. And so the books could be borrowed, maps could be downloaded, car could be hired, food was given away. In the end we were left with little over one cubic metre of boxes neatly piled up and 2 bicycles. A minimalist moment of pride, I thought to myself.

All packed and ready to go. As a young family it made sense to travel light and let all the stuff arrive separately. We arrived in Sweden with only a few clothes, 2 laptops and a buggy. And that’s when things got interesting. Shortly after landing, the delivery company has sent us an update - It will be several weeks before our belongings, however few, make it here!

2 months later, and we’re still waiting. Living without the usual comforts has been an interesting experience. In all the time that has passed, the only thing I really missed from the cubic square metre of our belongings is a pair of trainers to go for a jog. Everything else, from pans to books, from duvet to clothes, from toys to bikes I could totally get by without. Combine this with being a parent and I can honestly say that life has never been simpler. I discovered that a simple life is not an empty life. In fact, the presence of a little more than a few necessities has made me do more of the things I want to be doing, like writing this post, learning Swedish, taking a daily walk in the woods, going for a picnic and simply hanging out with my boys. And less of the things that don’t add any real value.

While I’m looking forward to the day my trainers arrive, I’m just as happy without them. And it’s not about the trainers anymore. If the lack of jogging begins to bug me, I will get another pair. After all minimalist for me is not a visual contest of how little I need in life but an opportunity to focus on the most important things. To live by my True North; something money can’t buy.

Agnes Brannylife