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Lessons in Minimalism

22 September 2017

Listen to Maki read ‘Lessons in Minimalism’

A few weeks ago, the blinds came off the railing on my window. For no apparent reason, they just fell and landed with a loud thud on my carpet.
Since then, my blinds haven’t moved an inch. Because fixing this problem means figuring out how to replace blinds or ,alternatively, buying a new set of blinds. But both of these options involve either handiwork skills or a soul-crushing trip to Bunnings. The former which I don’t possess, and the latter I’m unwilling to embark on.
So I’ve simply left it like that – blind-free. At first I had vague intentions of fixing this issue, but I’ve eventually come to enjoy my life with a blind-less window. Every morning I wake up to the first few rays of sunlight tickling my face. This means I no longer need an alarm clock to shock my body into accepting the fact that another day has come around. It’s also convenient because the alarm on my alarm clock happened to stop working a couple of days ago. Waking up in this manner is probably also good for your health, as it aligns your body with the natural chakra cycles of the earth – or something like that. So now I no longer cover my window with blinds, as the majority of sensible people on this planet insist on doing.
Houses are fragile. Things break, batteries run out and blinds sporadically fall on the floor. But as household fittings finish their life course, I’ve come to see that you can make do without a lot of them.
A few days ago my lightbulb sparked out. ‘Damn’, I thought to myself, ‘how will I read, eat, waste hours on the internet and do all the other things that I usually do in my room?’ Then I realised, ‘Alas!’ although the lightbulb is out, the power socket is still working. So I scrounged around for some lamps in the house and used them to light up my room instead. This, to my surprise, created an atmospheric ambience that’s much more pleasant than the harsh glare of my singular ceiling light. So I neglected the trip to Kmart and have continued to opt for this multiple lamp alternative instead.
Living in a sharehouse means that when you can’t be bothered going shopping, there’s always some sort of free-for-all item floating around that you can use instead.
Which is great, because, at some point, I ran out of tissues. We also ran out of paper towels. We never had napkins in the first place. But I soon realised that in instances where all these items are used, you can just substitute toilet paper instead. Toilet paper is incredibly versatile. The general populace seems to look down on the idea of using toilet paper outside of the bathroom…but it’s not like it’s dirty prior to its intended use. If you think about it, toilet paper is really like any other absorbent paper. The only difference is that it’s rolled in perforated rectangles around a cardboard cylinder. Thinking that you’re only supposed to use toilet paper in the toilet is basically just a constructed social norm. So for weeks, instead of indulging in the purchase of absorbent paper in its multifaceted forms, I’ve just used plain old toilet paper instead. I like to think that I’m posing a radical challenge towards societal categories by doing so.
Apparently, we need a lot of things. But in many cases I’ve not only learnt to do without various household items, but I have found it’s actually better not to have them. Who would’ve thought that moving out would eventuate in a Minimalist lifestyle? Perhaps being a student equates to accidental Zen.
Take for instance, culinary endeavours. Our sharehouse has never had a microwave. When I first moved in, I thought this was an atrocity and had intentions of organising to buy one for the house. I used to be under the popular impression that microwaves are vital kitchen appliances. Microwaves mean microwave popcorn and hot food at the press of a button. Sadly, I’ve come to the conclusion that making microwave popcorn is kind of impossible without a microwave. As for other hot foods, I’ve discovered that reheating meals on the stove actually tastes better. Alternatively, you can eat it cold – which brings out a new perspective on the dish. Cold curry can be surprisingly enjoyable, and cold pasta has a distinct flavor that differs from hot pasta. By choosing not to microwave your meal, you’re probably also making a savvy environmental choice, as it saves power and you aren’t letting evil waves of radiation infiltrate your food. Who knew that a matter of laziness can, in some instances, lead to doing your bit for the environment.

Other life lessons can be learnt from a poorly stocked kitchen. Sometimes, pleasant surprises can come out of not having certain things.
Like milk. Milk is something that we all know inevitably runs out. However, at any hour in the morning it’s simply not something that you’re willing to walk all the way to Woolworths for. And I refuse to go to the corner shop, as it’s a convenient trap of useful yet overpriced items. So when the milk runs out, I just do without milk instead. The first time this happened, I drank my coffee whilst sulkily wishing there was milk in it. But overtime I began to enjoy the taste of black coffee. Now it’s gotten to a stage where I actually like and prefer black coffee, to the point that I often order long blacks at cafés. This is something that would have been unthinkable in my past life as a cappuccino-sipping fanatic.
And so, a combination of a dilapidated house, being under the (entirely false) impression that other people will take the initiative to fix things, trying to save money and most of all – sheer laziness, has taught me many things over these past few months. It has led me on a wild adventure through a life with less furniture, less appliances, less clutter, less unnecessary additions…and most of all, less stuff.