The possession of stuff has been called slavery for years:
The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything. ~Fight Club movie, screenplay by Jim Uhls, directed by David Fincher, novel by Chuck Palahniuk
The above is just one quote of many about how stuff=slavery. However, there is a different form of slavery that minimalists tend to forget about; the slavery of extreme minimalism
Can owning nothing make you a slave?
When you don’t own cookware, how do you eat? You have no way to prepare food and so must be dependent upon those who have the means to prepare what you want. You could go out in the woods and eat raw foods, or knock a squirrel in the head and roast him over a spit made of sticks, but in most areas of civilization that would be frowned upon, if not illegal.
If you depend upon restaurants for food, what do you do when the restaurants are closed? It does happen occasionally, due to weather, disaster or holidays. Do you appear at a friend’s house to bum off of them or go hungry instead?
If you have no transportation, do you walk everywhere? How can you ride public transportation in areas where there is none? While I have known friends who would walk the 20 miles to work each day, they spent so much of their time walking that they were exhausted when they arrived and worthless when they clocked in. We won’t even talk about what was left after they finally made the trek home!
If you have no clothing, what do you do when your current outfit gets dirty? Do you wash it by hand and sit around naked until it dries, or borrow someone else’s clothing in the meantime?
Consider this: whenever you borrow or use something that belongs to someone else, you become indebted to them in some form or manner. That debt will need to be repaid.
Sleeping on a friend’s couch might be fine, until that friend calls in the tab and makes you start cleaning the commode or watching their kids. I had a friend who ended up basically being a live-in housekeeper while waiting for an apartment. She was miserable and felt helpless at times while caring for the people who opened their home to her. They felt that she owed them the work, and she gave them back much more in labor than she would have spent on an apartment, while they got a live-in housekeeper for virtually nil. Who do you think came out on top of that deal?
No money? Nothing divides friends quicker than the mooch who is constantly borrowing money.
Or the mooch who always comes over to watch tv.
Or the loser who is too onery to buy their own microwave and constantly uses yours.
I have ended friendships in the past because I felt like they considered me their personal taxi service, their private computer tech—or their personal expenses-paid grocery store. Would you like that to happen to you?
While minimalism is a good thing, there is a point of diminishing returns when it comes to minimalism, just like there is with excess possession. There is a point where less stuff becomes more of a hindrance than a blessing.
While that point may be different for everybody it does exist; how you handle it will determine not only how the world views you but how well you are able to function in this world.
Several bloggers have posted about the benefits of borrowing instead of owning, myself included. However, when you cross the line between reasonable borrowing in today’s society and mooching you will quickly become an anathema to friends and neighbors.
You will be the one looked at when they need favors returned, and if you are unable or unwilling to reciprocate you will eventually start losing even your most cherished relationships.
My name is Annie, and I am a minimalist. Like hoarding, minimalism can be taken to extremes and become detrimental instead of liberating and with all things needs to be taken in moderation.
The next time someone tells you to throw everything away, laugh. Laugh like you have never laughed before, because you know something they don’t. You know the wisdom of moderation.