Growing up, long before I stumbled upon minimalism, we had a sign in my house that said “simplify” in big blue letters. It hung over our basement as a constant reminder to appreciate the simple things in life. Of all the decorations, it got the most compliments. It was a beacon of reason in a world filled with distraction. It was radically different than the messages most people saw everyday. A simple life always beckoned, but I didn’t really know what a simple life looked like.
When I was 11 years old, my family went on a road trip to a tiny town in Idaho just outside of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The town sits in the Teton Valley, surrounded by trees and the mountains. There’s a single main street with a single grocer. The homes are spread out and free from fences. People hand their ladders on the side of the house, trusting their community not to steal. It was quiet. Simple. Miles and miles of open space and mountains. It was the only place I've been to that was the embodiment of “the simple life”. Living there looked like living with such intention and contentment. My mom, one of the biggest inspirations on my minimalist journey, fell in love with this town. She vowed that one day, she would live there. She would have the simple life, far from the chaos she had come to know. She found her Idaho.
As I’ve grown and reflected since then, I have found that Idaho is just as much a place as it is a state of mind. Some people live by the “Empire State of Mind”, always on the go and chasing their ambitious dreams. Others have that “L.A. State of Mind”, going with the tides, but also following the trends set by those who have the means to set them. And then there is the “Idaho State of Mind”, the one that I strive to cultivate and live by. Idaho represents the peace and serenity that comes with taking the time to slow down in life. It’s finding true joy in the simplicity of life and being content being alone. It’s being so much more with so much less. It’s being willing to trust the world with both your ladder and your heart. Idaho is spending time in nature. Idaho is living with intention, even if you can’t leave your everyday life at the drop of a hat.
So how can you find your Idaho in your everyday life?
Where Is Idaho for You?
Ask yourself what Idaho looks like. What does it sound like? Who lives there? What goes through your head when you are here? What kinds of things do you (or don’t you) do when you are here? How does Idaho feel? It looks different for everyone, but the first step in going there is knowing where ‘there’ is.
What Things Bring You to That Idaho State of Mind?
Is it a cup of tea? A long drive listening to music? Meditation? Spending an evening around a fire with friends? Visualizing a picturesque landscape? What is it that brings you joy so profound it can make you tear up? For me, it looks like watching the sunrise and sunset in solitude. It looks like a drive in the Rocky Mountains while listening to folk music, singing along as loud as I can. For me, it looks like hiking so high I can see the entire valley below me. Idaho is independence. My Idaho comes in the moments when I can follow my wandering thoughts to the clarity that I search for so desperately. My Idaho is knowing my purpose for a moment.
Make Time To Go To Idaho
Once you know the ‘where’ and ‘what’ of your Idaho, the only thing left is to determine ‘when’ you are going to go. Idaho is your place, your stillness, your sanctuary. Ideally, we would all live in Idaho. We would always be in that state of peace and clarity. Make it a priority to go to Idaho everyday, even if that means only going just before bed or on your lunch break. Maybe you can make your weekends set aside for Idaho. However you get there, enjoy the ride there just as much as your time there. That Idaho happiness is not just a destination; it's a journey. Make a cup of tea and sit for 30 minutes in the morning to collect your thoughts. Go for that sunset run outside. Drive in the mountains and disconnect for a day. Go for a hike. Invite that friend over for dinner. Take the night off and just sit with your thoughts, letting your mind wander toward clarity. Make time to go to Idaho.
To all of you, I hope you find your Idaho, and I hope it’s simply wonderful.