mnmlist: finding yourself in spareness

We often create an identity for ourselves using things.

We have logos or slogans or cute catchphrases on our clothing, and it shows people who we are. We have tattoos or piercings, baseball caps, accessories, smartphones, designer bags, Manolo Blahnik shoes … and these express to others who we are.

In our homes, what we have on our walls shows others who we are. What TV shows we watch, what books we read, what celebrities and blogs we follow. What brands we like on Facebook. This is our identity.

But what happens when you strip all this away? When you are left with plain clothing, a home that is empty and spare … how will you express yourself? What will you use to forge an identity? You could argue that your identity would now be called “Minimalist”, but let’s go beyond that label.

In spareness, we are confronted by a lack. It is a frightening thing if you aren’t accustomed to it. You must take a close look at that lack, and wonder, “What am I left with?”

When there is just you, and nothing else, you must look inside yourself. You have to ask who you are, and again, that can be scary. You start to question whether you are adequate as a person, and then you wonder where this sense of inadequacy comes from. You start to realize that there is nothing more possible than who you already are, that there isn’t anyone who is “more adequate” than you, but only people who are different. If you perceive them to be “better”, that’s only because you are measuring them up to a standard created by someone else. When you remove that arbitrary and meaningless standard, there is no “better”. There is only who you are.

There is an empty room, and you. And you are enough. You are all that’s needed in this room, you fill it with your light and the miracle of your being, and you now realize: the things you used to express yourself, those were just a crutch. You need none of it. You are enough.

In spareness, you find enough.