A couple of nights ago I watched Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things on Netflix. If you have not seen it, the premise they present is that it is possible (and even preferable) to live a life with less. I whole heartedly agree that living with fewer materialistic goods is a good thing. I know I am extremely guilty of living with more than I should. It is something I am working on in fact. With that in mind I had a sincere interest in hearing their story and hopefully learning something. I didn’t.
At first, they present a case that is fairly compelling in many ways. They are both charismatic in their own ways and their philosophy certainly makes sense on the surface. As I got deeper into the documentary a problem presented itself. None of the people they were highlighting had children. Toward the end of the show a family of four is introduced. Aside from discussing a few aspects of their lives, not a lot of the information that was provided that was practical. Clearly Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus weren’t pitching their film to parents. One of the main aspects of being a parent is making sure you have enough stuff to survive life with your children.
I admire the idea of trying to minimize our human footprint on the earth. Doing more with less is a worthy goal. I myself have been in the process of a long-term purge of things that began about a year ago. I am teaching Sophie to hold on to things that matter and that she uses and to donate the things she doesn’t. I am working on downsizing my things. If I can’t look at something and find joy or practical use, I try my best to donate it. Holding on to things is still something I struggle with. Hopefully I am getting better as I get older.
Any parent knows that it is important to have enough stuff to survive life with their kids. We have toys, games, books, puzzles, sporting gear… we have stuff. I know for a fact that if I were to divest myself of almost everything I own that my daughter would not have as enjoyable of life as she has now. As a parent why would I want to make that decision? I wouldn’t. I have one child at home. I can only imagine how much stuff the parents of a large Catholic family must acquire to keep heads above water.
I think the show has merit if you are young or single and don’t have kids. Aside from that, there are some good reflections on downsizing in general but not in a way that makes sense in my world. I can get by with less stuff but I certainly do need some stuff.