Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
If you’ve removed the clutter, then the last thing you really want to do is add something. Or so you’d think. Unfortunately our culture has conditioned us to want more. We like our toys. We buy impulsively. We take on too many projects. Well, at least I used to.
Zen teaches us the value of koko, or austerity. This doesn’t have to be the life of a monk, having no real possessions and relying on the morning alms for nutrition, but it does mean challenging yourself to find that point where you have what you need, and nothing more. That point is different for each of us, and an item or expense that is a toy or luxury to one person may be a valuable component of another’s life. The point is to become consciously aware – and to make a conscious decision before adding something new.
Most of us have seen the famous photo of Steve Jobs sitting in the middle of his living room – on a mat sipping tea, surrounded by just a single lamp and a couple books. Probably not how most of us would choose to live, but consider the freedom – and focus – that creates. Not to mention the fatter savings account or unused budget – which in itself creates more freedom.
You should have seen the look on my real estate agent’s face years ago when I told her that I wanted a house with less storage space, not more. Obviously the first time she had heard that request, especially for someone looking for a nicer house. We have since decided that if we want a nicer, but smaller, house we will probably have to build our own. That project has created many new minimization ideas, with my architect working on a design that minimizes doors and walls, reduces horizontal surfaces upon which clutter can be stacked, and reduces angles and unnecessary trim.