I consider myself a minimalist. Yes, I own a car and more than 100 possessions. Sure, my capsule wardrobe is probably double what most would see as the perfect minimalist closet, but I don’t have to color in the lines to be a minimalist, I simply have to adopt the mindset like that of the artist. Artists are free, and so are minimalists — free from cultural norms, free from clutter, and free from the trap of needing more.
My attachment to things is rare. I believe I learned this from my mother. She raised her family in a way that showed us nothing meant more to her than the relationships she had in her life, and all “things” were temporary and replaceable.
After three years of marriage, my husband and I moved our family of four and two dogs into an 800 square foot home. We downsized, organized, and discovered that an experience of less meant more room for creativity and togetherness. After two years of this lifestyle, we moved yet again into the home I’m in now — a farm house probably triple the size of our tiny home. With all this new space, we have still kept our minimalist lifestyle by rejecting clutter and embracing simplicity. But minimalism hasn’t rubbed off on my son.
You see, he’s a collector. While I’m carrying around trashbags and tossing away all unnecessary items, he roams around the house with his owl themed backpack and gathers.
Like a scavenger hunting for treasures, he sifts through all the things that I would prefer to discard or donate, and he finds a use for them. In our living room sits four piles of his collections: blocks, sticks, alphabet flashcards (with half the letters missing), and a pile of Cheerios stacked one on top of the other.
“Look, mommy! I made a tower!”
That he did. Yet, I can’t get over the feeling of annoyance that my clutter free home has his collections scattered about. As I walk out of the living room, I look over to our piano. Stacked on both ends are two more toddler assortments — puzzle pieces and Peppa Pig figurines. There’s no running away from his accumulations of objects I would much rather eliminate from our home.
But I’ve learned to shift my perspective and realize that just as I find freedom in simplicity, he finds purpose and aliveness from his collected treasures. He beams with pride and works diligently as he gathers. Though frustration after tripping over another cereal tower creeps into my heart, I’ve learned to honor my son means to accept and help cultivate his collections.
My little collector has taught me how to see beauty in the misplaced, discarded objects that sneak into our home. He saves unwanted possessions from my “quick-to-pitch” hands. Though I still don’t quite see the importance of the crunchy leaves or dried playdough he insists on stockpiling, I have learned to love the parts of him that are different than the parts of me.
That’s what you do for the people you love. You accept all aspects of the person, even if his treasures include stickers and soggy Cheerio towers.
What parts of your loved ones are hard to love? Take some time this week to look through a new lens and learn from the differences.
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