I can’t claim to be a guru or an expert to give advice on living minimalistically, but I can claim to be an expat who can tell you what it is like to have your life shoved into two suitcases and a carry-on bag. Which, in my opinion, is essentially the equivalent except that one path is chosen and the other is thrust upon you.
No, wait, that was Shakespeare. Who, it must be agreed, did occasionally know what he was speaking about when he discussed the human condition.
Be not afraid of greatness; some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them. William Shakespeare
However, you get there though, there is such relief in living a lifestyle that requires so little to support it.
Off the bat, one of the first things I noticed was that it was infinitely easier to get dressed in the morning. Everything that I had in my closet was there to serve a purpose and fit exactly into my stylistic preferences that governs my “now.” Nevertheless, even with such a limited selection my fashion creativity was still sparked when I reached into my little Ikea wardrobe to select an outfit that I knew was going to leave me feeling Beyoncé flawless.
My lack of material items went far beyond my clothing. In fact, most of what I owned was clothing, so I was lucky that I managed to move into a furnished apartment. Granted, not everything was exactly to my taste, but I did have the advantage of living in an apartment that looked like it was plucked out of an Ikea showroom.
Although I didn’t own much in the way of household items, I did have two precious possessions that belonged to me: a Persian rug and a hand-stitched quilt. These two additions to my home were not only saturated with memories of comfort smiles, but they were very much statements of my personality and were wonderful accents to soften the Ikea aesthetic that I lived in.
That being said, only having two major items with which to “decorate,” my apartment did not stop me from making my apartment feel warm and homey. Instead of purchasing items, I had friends who donated me some of their wonderful art projects as well as flowers that I would often gather outdoors. It was by enjoying living with so little that I learned how to live.
Not much changed when I chose to move back home to the United States. In fact, having few possessions made it so much easier to make that decision in a relatively short time frame. What had previously managed to decorate my 30 sqm home was folded back into my two original suitcases plus an extra carry on back. Ok, so maybe some Tetris was involved to wiggle every last item in under the weight limit, but I still did it!
The amazing thing about being able to literally squish your life into two suitcases is that it somehow makes you love having less. I love the freedom of knowing I can just pack up and go when the spirit moves me. Plus, it gives you a new perspective on the uniquely American phenomenon of extreme consumerism. When you no longer want to constantly shop because you are content with what you already own, suddenly your days become longer and the array of activities that you have time to participate in suddenly expand. It is a wonderful metamorphosis. It is a change where you will come to realize that maybe there is something to having nothing. I mean, after all, every religion from the Catholics to the Buddhists have been preaching its virtues for centuries, and today the minimalists have taken up this ancient belief system and showed how practicing less is more can thrust the human state into greatness.