On Minimalism and Remembering What Really Matters

Outside the customs area of Detroit Metropolitan Airport, I saw a swarm of activity around a couple with a small child. It appears that they had left their passports on the plane (or at least that was the best case scenario). I have no idea what happens if you show up at U.S. Customs without your papers. I can only assume it’s not good. Maybe not terrible but definitely a huge hassle.

And I thought, ok this couple has a small child and traveling with a small child is difficult. But there are two of them and they could have tag-teamed with one person remembering the child and the other person remembering the passports. I’m sure they remembered the diaper bag and their luggage after all. But the most important things by a long margin are 1) remembering the baby and 2) remembering the passports. Third would be remembering money or a phone, but those things could be remedied after customs.

And I thought, they were probably distracted by the luggage. If they had only brought the baby and the passports, then there wouldn’t be a problem. The more things you have to remember, the more likely you are to forget something. Unfortunately for them, they forgot the most important thing. Really the only important thing. They were too distracted with things that could easily be replaced that they forgot the things that couldn’t be replaced.

It reminded me of minimalism. If we stop and think about our lives, we can name a few things that are the most critical and the rest is nice, but it can be replaced. It’s the stuff that you run back into your burning house for (usually people, but certain items or documents make the cut as well). The rest of it is just stuff.

There’s nothing at all wrong with stuff. But we each have a different amount of stuff we can handle before we start to forget the most important thing. For me, it’s a pretty low number because I’m disorganized and easily overwhelmed. But I’m sure your house could be filled with stuff and it doesn’t bug you, you can still find everything and you are still properly prioritizing your life. And we should be wary even if we have very few things, that those few things aren’t distracting us from what really matters. Because there are travelers with tons of luggage who still get everything together and there are backpackers who can’t keep it all straight. As long as you have your passport and your baby, it doesn’t matter how much other stuff you have.

And that’s the way with minimalism. Minimalism isn’t about how much stuff you have but rather, recognizing the amount of stuff that we can handle without forgetting what’s most important. If we have too much stuff for us to handle and care for, or the stuff we have takes too much of our attention, then we may need to check ourselves.

What are your thoughts on minimalism?

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