Minimalism Life

There was a woman ahead of me in line at the store. Her basket was full. Waiting to be called to an open register, she dug through the dozens of sunglasses left for making last-minute purchase decisions in the ‘temptation aisle-land’ snaking itself strategically alongside the checkout area. “I have more pairs at home than I know what do to with,” she said. “But if I move to Florida, I’ll be all set!” I assured her that the pair she was now modeling for me fit her face well and hey, what’s not to love about having an assortment of sunglasses?

If only she knew what I was feeling inside my body. First to make the lineup was guilt — an uncomfortable emotion that surfaced as soon as I realized I made the choice to placate this person instead of sharing my truth. Standing next to guilt awaiting their turn were sadness and compassion. Surely the various shades of pink and red displayed on the woman’s face indicated she was embarrassed, and I quickly surmised she was embarrassed because she knew she was beholden to consumerism. Rounding out the roster was pity, rearing its ugly, unhelpful head. What a sad woman. If only she could free herself from the shackles of high-yield shopping.

Fortunately, my longstanding practice of awareness allowed me the chance to observe at length and investigate these emotions. It is when we get curious, not allowing ourselves to get caught up in them, that we not only learn more about ourselves but also can then choose better ways to respond. Even if that way was going to have to wait until next time.

What I learned in my investigation was that even if it sometimes comes wrapped in a cloak of care and concern, my ego still wishes to prove that it is right. This woman’s drive to own multiple pairs of sunglasses, I had decided right then and there, was a bad thing. A wrong thing. Both a bad and wrong thing because, of course, it wasn’t my thing.

But minimalism isn’t for everyone. And while I am forever grateful for the simplicity and ease it has brought into my life, the truth is that it simply does not work for all people. And that’s OK. We all beat to a different drum, and it’s not my job to convince anyone to change their rhythm. Nor should I want it to be.

My daily intention always includes a desire to express love. Somehow, I allowed my ego and feelings of right and wrong to get in the way of two strangers meeting one another in the checkout line. A more loving response, I later considered, would have been to ask her about Florida. Did she have any family there, and had she ever visited? Is this where she hoped to retire? Getting to know a person in a loving and openhearted way versus sizing up how they purchase goods seems like a wise idea to me, and one I’ll be remembering for next time.

We learn and we grow. We grow and we learn some more. Isn’t life beautiful?