Minimalism is not just for the younger generations though you could be forgiven for thinking so. Most of the blogs, podcasts, and books about minimalism seem to be written by people in their late 20s to early 40s. The new film, Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things, by Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn (aka “The Minimalists”) includes interviews mostly from this age group. And yet, I saw a lot of mid-life and older viewers at the showing. I’ve also noticed a good number of mid-lifers in the minimalism groups on social media. So why aren’t we creating blogs and podcasts and books? (And by “we” I’m including myself in the mid-life group because I’m not old – not yet.) There are obviously are a whole lot of baby boomers and aging GenX-ers out there leaning into minimalism.
Minimalism is for everyone, but each generation has its own challenge. Younger people may think it’s easier for those who have already acquired homes and established careers. People raising kids and juggling jobs and home life may think empty nesters have it easy. The kids are launched. No more toys or school supplies or all the clutter that goes along with raising kids. Most everyone thinks it’s easiest for younger people to minimalize. After all, no kids and probably haven’t collected too much stuff yet, right? But younger people, especially those who came from lower-income families, may yearn to acquire all the stuff they didn’t have growing up. The Minimalists Ryan and Joshua fit this profile. They didn’t have much when they were kids and were determined to make up for it by succeeding at well-paying jobs and buying a whole lot of stuff. It took them about a decade to realize that stuff can’t make you happy.
I’m at the tail end of the baby boomer generation, an empty-nester, and single. Minimalizing should be a snap, right? No spouse or kids to run interference in my decluttering! Yes, that does make it easier as well as the fact that I’ve leaned towards simplicity for a long time. But, and it’s a big but, despite my efforts, I’ve managed to accumulate a lot over the last several decades of raising two kids (not to mention my own stuff). Even after going through a house fire five years ago (see blog “After the Fire”), downsizing to a much smaller house, and then getting rid of a lot more before moving across country, I still find that I have a significant amount of superfluous belongings. Why didn’t I notice this stuff before I packed it up and moved from Texas to Florida? Partly because of time – there’s never enough of it before moving to examine everything in a thorough and thoughtful manner. A big move also represents a big change, and during this first year in a new city, my perspective about life has shifted. I’ve also discovered new books, blogs, and podcasts by people calling themselves “minimalists,” which has revitalized my interest in simplicity and motivated me to re-evaluate my life and the stuff in it.