One of my new WordPress friends is Ron Byrnes at Pressing Pause. He recently wrote an article articulating some thoughts I’ve been having about the problem with the simple living movement. (Read it really quickly – I’ll wait.)
I really appreciate the way he explains his concerns here. I agree that the tendency for people on the outside of the movement is to assume that those of us living by these principles are 1) crazy, 2) elitist, and/or 3) going through a phase. While number 1 may apply, I have to take serious issue with numbers 2 and 3. The more popular icons of the simple living movement do feed the public’s assumption that minimalism in particular is a luxury that only the wealthy can afford. One often hears stories that include such phrases as “so I walked out of my six-figure job and lived on my savings for a year!” or “so I sold my $300,000 house and moved into a tiny apartment, paying off my debt with the $2,300 a month I was able to save!”
Those statements do not resonate with me at all. I suspect they don’t speak to many of you, either. When my husband and I began our journey toward minimalism, we were making more than we ever had: a whopping $25,000 a year. (I suspect that some of you reading this don’t even make that much.) We were on crappy car number 3 of the 4 that would live and die in our possession in as many years. We were lucky to put any money in savings, let alone enough to give us a year-long sabbatical from work. With horrible credit from some very bad credit card decisions right out of college, we were bad investments. At one point, we were working 80 hours a week (each) to make enough to pay for the Dude’s medical needs. In a nutshell, we began our trek toward minimalism as a way to survive. Every year, we looked for a cheaper apartment than the one we had been living in. I’ve told most of that part of the story before. Minimalism was never an elective luxury for us.
Some of you can say the same. Some of my minimalist friends understand what it’s like to have to fit into a 500 sq ft apartment because it’s all you can afford. Some of you have one car for your household because you don’t have the funds for a second one right now. Others of you are on your journey toward a simple life not because you have to, but because you want to be free. More than anything, you want to have the option to pick up and move to anywhere, anytime, without debt or stuff holding you back.
My point is that simplicity and minimalism aren’t just the eccentric preference of the rich. We all have a story. We all have our reasons. And I want to explore them all.
Starting soon, I’ll be conducting and posting interviews with other members of the simple living movement. Not the high-profile members. I’ll be talking to the average joes and janes. The typical, unassuming people who have their own valuable reasons for this lifestyle. Get ready to hear from the uniquely normal. And if you’re one of my blogging friends, don’t be surprised if I come knocking at your WordPress door.