A darker side to Minimalism?

I take particular pride in not owning a lot of stuff; for a lifestyle I try to be a minimalist. Yet, I’ve learned there’s a dark side to this attitude and practice.

I don’t like to own unnecessary baggage or spend frivolously; it helps with the housework, bank balance and the planet.

Minimalism, like any other philosophy, can be taken to the extreme. Some individuals live with only a few possessions in a bag; it’s been done. Minimalism can seem like a contest to see who live on the least. Yet, it’s been brought to my attention that such an attitude can be one way some people avoid conflict.

The drive towards fewer things can be a drive to live smaller, to avoid upsetting anyone else. To be small, be hidden, don’t make waves. A strategy to avoid life in all its messy confusion. Such a drive conflicts with being an artist and a writer. The job of an artist is to be bigger, to take up space in other peoples heads.

In my zeal to live a simpler life, I’ve used Minimalism to feel safe and avoid doing what needs to be done: getting out there and sharing my ideas. Expanding into the world is what I need to do more of to be a success. Especially as I’m an introvert, such practice is difficult for me.

Stripping myself my life down the barest may have lead me to feel more desolate. A bare life can seem joyless. I feel the need and desire to expand, my passionate side wants adventure, but my afraid introverted, anxious side want to stay at home.

Frida Kahlo by Guillermo Kahlo

Recently, I was watching a biography on the Mexican artist Fried Kahlo. It brought up the extravagance and flamboyance of her life and art. She made life and art intertwine, an adventure, and her art was about her life.

Kahlo was a larger-than-life figure, a bold presence. For me, timidity has held me back due to fear of censure or ridicule.

I’m not an over-consumer, but maybe my minimalist drive was somewhat misdirected. Minimalism is perhaps my desperation to feel acceptable, to fit in, to avoid taking up too much space and time in the world. A way to keep telling myself I am a good person.

I need to get a little dirtier or perhaps flashier, less like the timidity of a mouse, afraid to make some noise.

Minimalism was my attempt to simplify a complex existence, but the movement is more about focus, not living smaller, but smarter.

I must honour all the parts of myself: the artist that wants to change the world, the need to expand, not contract. Collect more things, influences, make my home and image of me. Buy more, but buy what matters. Clothes that express who I am, home furnishings that enrich and inspire me.

Minimalism should not be a deprivation or asceticism, but about engaging with all the things you own; everything has value or use. Nothing just for appearance; it all has a message; all have meaning.

It’s not about being extravagant or pretentious but having a life that reflects who you are. Wear your philosophy in your life. I need to be a little more expressive, engaging with people like Kahlo, Picasso and Monet; they all commanded attention.

Is my art about me? How can it not be? It’s a very intimate expression of an artist.

Kahlo’s art is of her time and her life. For me, art is about this time and this life: loneliness, high sensitivity, society, philosophy, sensuality, Buddhism, sexuality, nature, environmentalism, and more.

As an introverted, highly sensitive person, I have the whole ‘be alone’ thing down. What I need to do is more is be out in the world.

Live simply, but live wisely, but above all else, show up in the world. We all need to honour ourselves and not succumb to timid insecurity because we think it will help us live safer.

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