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On Minimalism

by Jo Petroni 3 months ago in humanity
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and being minimal before it was cool

My Dearest Galosh,

I’m almost ready to let you go as well.

Since we moved quite a lot in my childhood, I’ve never had a true sense of home. The only home home I know is the distant memory of the tiny red brick house covered in vine on Monsieur B's large property. We had been so happy there, my brother and I at least. (My father never quite managed the integration part. He was stuck on his love for his own home, in another country. On the people who truly understand him. No one really understands you silly. )

I first changed homes when I was 6. Then, every 3 years or so. Later, every year. Now, we move to a new place every six months to a year, and everything we own (plus the dog) fits into our old Mondeo. The first time I moved out of my parent's house when I was 20, I left stuff behind. My parents in turn moved to a new place, and so I had to filter through my old high-school memorabilia and throw away chunks of it.

And again every time they moved (yes, we're a very mobile family), until finally all that is now left in my mother's storage is Bobo the teddy bear, a bunch of my drawings and some books. I read on my tablet but the hard-covers remain in storage for two reasons.

First because I don't know how to give up books (I know I'm not the only one here..)

And second, because I have this idea of a far away future home of ours, with walls full of my favorite books, like a collection of my favorite universes, a witness of my multiple selves, a remnant of my not-so-minimalist former life... you get the point.

The rest of the stuff I gave up in steps, interrogating each item's value in relation to my emotional universe. Some things took multiple moves and filters to give up. But it got so much easier. I look at my parents house, still a shrine to things even after so many iterations, every item solemnly shaping a lifetime of gathering. They never could give up the silent witnesses in their lives.

Minimal lifestyle honestly didn't exist back when I first started ritually giving up the stuff that didn't "spark the joy". I was minimal before it was cool to be minimal. So it's interesting that we have reached the same conclusions, the Marie Kondos of the world and I: give away the fluff, keep what brings joy, use the process as a radical self-inquiry, do it often.

My life has made me a hard core minimalist and a home away from home type of girl. All of our belongings fit inside our car.

Unencumbered by the material, and can focus on making homes that fulfill by their simplicity, not spaces to fill up with memorabilia. There is an essence of good space, and it lies way beyond the things that occupy it. It could sum up the art being human, if we do it right.

But then again, there's Bobo, and the old desk I inherited from my grandpa, and Alex's own grandpa's old radio. And books. I remember passing my fingers on their cover when I was little. They're mementos of life passing by and of generations flowing one after the other.

I have the image of the house that shelters them all.

Maybe my minimal life is a phase.

Maybe you are somewhere in between as well.

Love as always,


Thank you for reading! This post is public so feel free to share it. (It would really make my day)


About the author

Jo Petroni

I help Ecovillages Listen to Their Land before they build on it. I'm an architect who specializes in bioclimatics, biophilia, permaculture, low-tech and off-grid.

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