Minimalism in the times of Consumerism
The pandemic brought in its wake a lot of unprecedented problems worldwide. Restricted mobility was just the beginning of troubles, and priorities changed overnight for many people when financial crises came knocking on their doors. It has been a matter of survival to choose between ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ for the ones facing these struggles. A word worth considering even for the more fortunate of us in this scenario, given where our planet is heading today, is – Minimalism.
have always been fascinated by it and appreciate people who are brave enough to go against the tide and embrace it as a way of life. For those of us who would be fortunate enough to go back to our old ways, I have a line that we can ponder on- Owning less is good but wanting less is better. Owning less is often considered an index of affordability, wanting less is going to another realm altogether. It has no bearing whatsoever with our financial status.
I know it’s hard, which is the reason I say that the ones who adopt it willingly, are brave. For Indians, it shouldn’t have been an alien concept because our traditional learning has always laid emphasis on detachment from materialistic possessions. Paradoxically that hasn’t been very potent in curbing our hoarding tendencies. Unlike the hard-core minimalists, we may not be able to forsake all our pleasures, but can we consider taking a middle road? Can we lower our baseline and work our way up through that? Not just temporarily but even when our good not-so-old days are back again. If the answers to above are in the affirmative, a good point to begin is by subjecting every possession, that we have or we want to acquire, through a screening process. Needless to say, honestly will be required.
- Do I really need it?
- Why do I need it?
- Is it because everybody who is a somebody has it?
You may shake your head in disagreement on the last one, but I request you to introspect hard. It’s not just kids who grapple with peer pressure. It merely gets ingrained in us in our childhood. Even as adults, we buy into trends, and buy what we are told is popular and a “must-have”.
For those who claim that minimalism works for them, say that they save a lot of time, energy and money which can all be put to better use. I believe them, but I also think that each and every one of us doesn’t need to live like a miser or a saint. We simply need to be more aware and conscious of what we are buying. ‘Wanting’ to own less will give you a kind of freedom that can only be experienced when you practice it and what better time than now to start. Most of us, no matter where we live, have faced lockdowns and have had our social lives curbed. I have heard friends talk endlessly about clothes, bags, and shoes they own that haven’t been used for months. Unclutter your life, literally and otherwise, detach yourself from materialistic things and see how it sets you free.
As we adapt ourselves to the new normal, let us also try to master the art of knowing what to hold on to and what to let go of. Socrates in his time said- “The secret of happiness is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”
About time we latch on to that.
Dr. Shivani Salil, a Clinical Microbiologist, is the author of “Hiraeth- Partition Stories From 1947”, an anthology with 24 stories written around the partition of India, that was selected among the Top 100 Debut Novels for the year 2019-20 by Literatureslight & Criticspace Literary Journal. She was also awarded the Literoma Naari Samman 2020 award for literature. She has a Master’s in Fine Arts (creative writing) from HKU, and writes on a broad spectrum of issues, from parenting to health and relationships to philosophy.