Three years ago, I went through a difficult time, when a dearly loved one was ill. I felt helpless, angry, upset, out of control and frightened. Then, I realized, it wasn’t about me. My focus and energy needed to be channeled where it was needed most but everything seemed so complicated. It wasn’t really or at least it was as complicated as I made it. Fewer complications meant more time and energy available, which is what I needed, but I took the scenic route, not the direct one, on the way.
At first, I thought I needed to be ultra-organized. I’m quite a structured person anyway (I’m a ‘J’ for those of you interested in Myers-Briggs!). So, I organized. I had a container for everything and if a container was ever empty, then I ensured I filled it. Every minute of every day was planned. Every article on every shelf was straight. Funnily enough, this didn’t help! But I didn’t understand why.
At some level, I knew I needed more simplicity and fewer distractions. So I started to search the web. My searches focused on ‘simplicity’ as I had never heard of the term ‘minimalism’. But it kept popping up. I stumbled across a site called ‘The Minimalists’ hosted by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. I read a few of their posts with interest and then saw that they were due to visit London, just a train ride away.
On Wednesday 8th October 2014, I made my way to Parkgate Road in London, somewhere I didn’t know and had never heard of, a prospect that would have daunted me before. (I’m Irish, living in the UK, so usually everywhere is different and new!). However, different results needed different approaches. That evening was a watershed moment. By that stage, I had read many articles by The Minimalists and even had one of their books. However, hearing them speak brought the whole concept of minimalism alive for me and more importantly, within my reach. They also mentioned some of their friends, Courtney Carver, Leo Babauta, Colin Wright …. I realized there was a whole world of minimalism and alternative views out there.
The weekend after, I looked around my carefully organized belongings and saw them with different eyes. Yes, I was fortunate to have so much – but I also had so much distraction, so much anxiety and so much excess. How much did one person need, for goodness sake?! I saw the difference between organization and minimalism, which is probably quite obvious to many others, but as I said, I took the scenic route to this realization.
My loved one is now so much better than I ever thought possible. And the dark days which I hated and feared at the time, showed me a less conventional but more satisfying life. I’m still on a journey to simplicity but I know why I’m doing it. As Jim Rohn says, ‘ When the why gets stronger, the how gets easier’.
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