I just finished reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, and WOW! There was so much in those pages I could relate to. The book is mostly about relationships and the accompanying burdens. The people in the story who got out of serous relationships experienced the greatest feeling of lightness. They no longer felt they were responsible for someone’s well-being and feelings. They had the freedom to be themselves.
On a broader scale, our consumer economy is about burdens. Buying and owning things is a burden. The responsibilities we have to our stuff weigh us down – financially, mentally and emotionally. Tending to our stuff becomes an obligation instead of a joy. The feeling that we are lacking something and can fill that void with shiny objects leaves us feeling unfulfilled and exhausted.
The ideal is to travel “light” – not just while on vacation, but through life. Traveling light means traveling with as few objects as possible – with as few impediments and distractions as possible. Traveling light gives us maximum flexibility to alter our route or stay an extra night in a place we love. It also allows us to leave a place we don’t love.
There is a lightness in minimalism. It seeks to lighten our psychic load and free our time. It seeks to relieve us of some of our financial responsibilities so we can relax and reduce stress.
When you have minimum belongings and minimum debt, you have more choices in life. You can easily move. You are not tied to a high-paying job because you live well below your means. You can work a while, save money, then spend some time traveling. You have time to plot and plan your adventures because you have freed your mind from worry about your material possessions.
Imagine how many dreams you could dream if you didn’t spend so much time worrying about acquiring, maintaining, fixing, replacing, admiring and storing your stuff.
The lightness of minimalism has always attracted me. It pulls me like a magnetic toward what is important and away from what is frivolous and burdensome.