For many months now I have had a tension in my spirit. As it turns out, some of our readers are dealing with a similar dilemma. The question at the heart of the matter is this: Is it possible to be a spiritual person and still want/enjoy stuff?
There are two ends of the spectrum here, minimalism and materialism. Minimalism in its most basic sense is about eliminating all but what is absolutely necessary. The concept is not new, dating back centuries and is evident in many works of art and religious practice. In recent years, in a push back against our increasingly materialistic culture, minimalism is soaring in popularity. To be frank, I dig it. Materialism (not the one you learned in physics class) is an attitude of placing value or importance on material possessions and the accumulation of stuff. To be frank, I’m not a fan.
Still, I find that my life makes sense somewhere on the continuum between the two. Let’s talk shoes. I find it unnecessary to have over 100 pairs of shoes and have scaled back quite a bit. However, I can completely justify owning more than one pair of black shoes. I used to own about eight but I now have just five. Here’s what I currently own:
- Black pumps- 1 closed toe, 1 open toe (business meetings, sometimes church)
- Black wedge sandals (think bohemian fabulous)
- Black flats (for when I can’t handle heels but flip flops are inappropriate)
- Black knee high boots (winter honey!)
Now, I realize that this is already more than most minimalists own in total – and these are just the black ones. Full disclosure -- I own a similar list of brown shoes plus sneakers and shoes in a few other colors. There was a time in my life when I bought shoes on every shopping trip. In part because the crowd I was rolling with placed high social value on shoes but also because shoes had become a Band-Aid for my pain. See, I would try on clothes and they wouldn’t fit, so I bought shoes instead. My size 8 feet were reliable…unlike my disloyal waistline. I digress.
In a grand experiment, I tried to go one month with just 2 pairs of shoes. It was tough. I felt inappropriately dressed for several occasions and developed a new respect for rain boots.
It is not materialistic or nonspiritual to own things and to put yourself together well. I practice minimalism in some areas of my life. In others, I aim for simplicity (minimalism’s first cousin). Home decor, minimalist. Wardrobe, simplicity.
Yes, I am still spiritual. I am content and do not feel the need to add more stuff just for the heck of it. Total minimalism in every area did not resonate with me and actually added a layer of stress. Not everything has to be a need. It is totally okay to want a mango smoothie, pumpkin spice latte or caramel macchiato even if you only need water.
How about you? What rings true for your lifestyle?