I have given a great deal of thought as to why people feel the compulsion to have, keep, and own things. Why so many struggle to acquire the material “riches” our world has to offer. I have spent a great deal of time observing these people; friends, acquaintances, and strangers alike. I have also spent a bit of time observing those who are not so materialistic. Not necessarily other minimalists, but people who do not seem to get any joy, or as much joy in consuming. Through these observations I have come to an interesting hypothesis:
People who have the compulsion to possess things feel this compulsion as a result of an unspoken belief in our capitalist society that one must own things in order to use these things. That no matter where they are outside their home, they need to treat each place like it is a museum (stay behind the velvet rope) and not until they pay the admission fee, are they allowed to touch what is behind the glass.
Contrary to this, the person who has no interest in acquiring an abundance of material possessions believes that the whole world that they live in belongs to them anyway; it belongs to everybody. There is no urge to own a swimming pool, because there is a local gym they belong to where they can use the swimming pool whenever they want; or they can go to the lake. They have no urge to have a lawn of their own. If they want to see, smell, roll in, play on, or run on fresh cut grass they can visit the local public park. And that usually has the best kept grass anyway.
It’s the difference between insecurity and complete security.
Think about it. Consider the extremes: a hoarder versus a minimalist.
Hoarders seldom leave home (the hoard itself). And when they do its only to shop. They tend to be very introverted, have very few friends. Outside of their home they always seem in a hurry, as if they are very uncomfortable. As if they are in foreign territory, and they better hurry up, get what they want, and get out before somebody notices them. When they are home, they are finally safe in THEIR world within THE world, and as long as all the things they like are within those walls they are content.
Minimalists on the other hand are seldom home. Usually at home only to sleep, eat, read, or maybe work. They tend to be extroverted. Everyone they bump into is a potential friend, and is treated as such. They tend not to be in a hurry, very laid back. You will often finding them just strolling, taking in the sights.
Say a hoarder/collector is interested in a food processor they see at Target. They will look at it in the store and try to think of how they will make room for it in their kitchen. Then of course they will purchase it. They will buy the processor and keep it in their kitchen so that way it is available to them in the event that they will need it. It will already be safe within their tiny comfortable world.
If a minimalist is interested in a food processor they will look at it and consider if they have any specific immediate use for it. If so, then they will purchase it. If not, then they will feel no need to purchase it now, but now they know where to find it in the event that they do. There is no need to keep it easy access in their home because the world IS their home. There is no need to keep it stored in their kitchen because Target IS their kitchen.
Now those were extremes, but I see examples of this all the time in people every day. I’ve seen a friend of mine buy a waffle-maker because in theory it sounded like a good idea. but that waffle-maker made it’s way from the shelf in the store to the back of the closet within an hour, and there it has stayed ever since. That was two years ago. This is a deep insecurity, no two ways about it.
With so many things we desire, the following is true:
We don’t have to own it, to use it. And even if we do own it, that doesn’t guarantee that we WILL use it. And with that being the case ……. where is the value in ownership?