I love lists and patterns, and I’ve begun to notice three types of minimalists. I think this is helpful because I feel like there is a disconnect, that people outside of minimalism often look to one type (and it varies) as the definitive minimalist. But it’s not so simple. Minimalism is not just a design aesthetic, a backpack, and an environmental goal. We are much more broad and inclusive than that. Here are the three I see:
1. Domesticated minimalists
The least extreme of the two. Joshua Becker features this type of minimalism. It’s my favorite. There are almost no cons to the person in this kind of lifestyle, and it is easy for any American to achieve and enjoy.
2. International travelers, backpack minimalists
Usually the most extreme, because the lifestyle demands it. Mainly serves those who have a specific reason for it: making a point/inspiring, travel, getting through college/divorce/poverty.
3. Natural, hippie, sustainable minimalists
Another form of minimalism I like, serves the environment as much as the individual. It not only resonates with millennials who care about eco-friendliness, but also with the older generation who likes to live off the land, those who like to live like our ancestors. This version is usually extreme like travelers minimalism, but it is not for the same reasons: Travelers are extreme because of the nature of the lifestyle, but natural minimalists are extreme because they want to live an environmentally friendly, simple lifestyle – foregoing a lot of beauty products and high heels, for instance; whereas, travelers care less about the environment because of the nature of travel.
Where’s the Travel?
I rarely feature international travel on my channel, even though I do travel. This is because (1) I feel like it is unaffordable, even with a good deal, and (2) the travel I’ve had across Europe hasn’t been able to compare to the simple and sustainable pleasures of growing a small herb garden on the patio, for instance, holding my cold cat in the winter, or of observing the morning light filter through beautiful curtains. There are so many small pleasures, and we miss them for desire, but everything is not what it appears. It is important to point out that closely related to frequent travel is the missing connection, lost luggage, expensive tickets, turbulent flights, crowds, delays, and frequent eating out, for instance. All we know is all we can see: glossy photographs.
The home can be like a sanctuary. It is where I am most productive and safe. I love movie nights with chip and dip, getting my favorite items delivered to the door, saving for retirement, tending to plants, watching Pat make funny faces, and checking out local events and goods. Travel for me is as expensive as high fashion, even though it has the benefit of being educational. Most of the money goes overseas. I like supporting big corporations like Amazon and Google, companies developing self-driving cars and groceries to be delivered wallet-free, over airline companies and tourist restaurants that rarely care about improving anything. Natural minimalists, prizing harmony and ethics above all else, support even more local than domesticated minimalists’ national companies, going down to the neighbor next door selling berries and honey.
I understand why people want to travel because we love excitement and learning. We also are more respected and liked; I know this. But you could say the same about fashion. This post is not to deter traveling dreams or fashion sense – I enjoy both from time to time. We are all on our own journeys and have different priorities.
But this post is to say if you are like the majority of Americans and can never dream of an international vacation, you are STILL living the life. Staying at home is the quietest and simplest form of minimalism, and that’s precisely why I love it. It’s the least extreme. We are the least likely to get attention, and we are in good company. We can still learn by challenging ourselves (30 day challenges) and immersing ourselves in the community, by befriending people from all different cultures. America is a melting pot, the internet has broadened horizons; we underestimate how much we can learn and how much fun we can have, right where we’re at. This is contentment, making the best of what we were given.
I think of travel like a tattoo in the sense that when people experience it, they begin to want more. This is a socially acceptable want, but there’s a lot to be said about desire when it comes to the non-physical. Desire never ends. Is this good? I don’t know about goodness, but I know about desire.
Perhaps we will never overcome desire for as long as we live, but we can observe it and speak to it from time to time. If we can just recognize it at work, maybe we can understand ourselves and others.
Who Are You?
When it all comes down to it, nobody fits neatly into one category. Most of us are a little of all three. What kind of minimalist do you see yourself as?