An Exercise in Minimalism

My minimalist apartment

Minimalist wall decor

What can I live without?

Most of my stuff, at least for a while.

I escaped last summer’s excessive heat by renting an apartment in Portumna, a small town in western Ireland.

I packed light, things I could layer: rayon pants, long- and short-sleeved T-shirts. Only what I could squeeze into a 21-inch pilot’s case. I’d be traveling with that, a violin slung over my shoulder, and a tote the size of a large purse.

“I can’t believe that’s all you’re taking,” my sister Coral exclaimed.

“It’s all I can carry.”

“You’re gonna be cold.”

She was right. I wore a lightweight pantsuit on the plane but lost the jacket before I left D/FW. I bought a sweatshirt at O’Hare.

My apartment proved scantly furnished, with comfortable leather sofa and love seat, dining table, beds, a bare minimum of sheets and towels, dishes and flatware, mugs and basic cookware.

I bought ice trays; a bath rug; a frying pan; a roasting pan and potholders; a clothes-drying rack, because the washing machine worked just fine, but I could never operate the dryer.

I refused to buy extraneous stuff I would just have to dispose of at the end of my stay. I debated, could I drink water or wine out of a coffee mug? I bought glasses. Would the bath rug suffice for doing yoga on the hard floors? I needed a throw rug.

I drew the line at decorative containers. I like to keep cosmetics and kitchen things organized, but I made do with the clear plastic baskets that tomatoes came in.

I kept telling myself, I have everything I need.

When Coral came to visit, she bought throw pillows for the living room. She mailed me a wall hanging, but the Irish postal service returned it to her in Austin.

The locals apologized about the weather: “We’re not having a proper summer.” That’s why I’d come, for a rude, improper, cool, rainy summer.

Why didn’t I bring a pair of jeans, my black boots, velour sweatpants, a heavy jacket? Oh, yes, because I couldn’t carry it all.

I have everything I need, but it’s at home.

I bought jeans, knit pants, a heavy jacket, a dressy jacket.

I spent my last day in Portumna donating almost everything I’d acquired to charitable organizations.

The real question is, can I lose my attachment? Specifically, my attachment to comfort?

Apparently not. But maybe I’ve loosened my stranglehold just a bit.

This entry posted in Decorating, Ireland, Minimalism, Philosophy, Travel. Bookmark the permalink. 

11 Responses to An Exercise in Minimalism

  1. becky says:

    Minimalism…right up my alley! Loved this post, Carol and thanks for stopping by abbey style home and leaving a nugget-y comment on the publishing post 🙂

    • Don says:

      Your comments on my blog this moirnng prompted me to come for a visit I’ve spent an hour wandering through your delightful posts I see imperfect prose is where I’ve spotted your name before

  2. wow. i love this carol. i admire it so much. there is so much we can live without… if we could only find the comfort we seek in our souls, instead of in our living rooms…

  3. Old Ollie says:

    Thanks! – Austin has music – my Wife’s cousin did her Masters Degree there.

    Fred has been to Austin – check him out live, if you can.

    Dig your style.

  4. Thanks for stopping by! I just read your Ireland posts. The one thing I should’ve brought was a warm raincoat. Honestly, I was missing my light ski jacket!

    Happy travels!

  5. brian miller says:

    smiles…but you grew and inch…made a little move…and you know what a little movement is a good thing…

  6. r.elliott says:

    My son is a minimalist…he was going to live/work outside an Indian reservation…as he packed I noticed he took on towel…he said that is all he would need…just wash and reuse…Oh yes…the strangle hold…I think you loosened that grip quite a bit…blessings~

  7. I love your travel posts! Especially your trip through Rome looking for gelato. That sounds like something I would do. 🙂

  8. kd sullivan says:

    I love this idea! Traveling with only what you can carry or wear….Once my mother and I walked a seventeen mile walking trail and had a backpack with pj’s, fresh undies and a toothbrush and toothpaste. What fun!

  9. i miss your posts 🙂

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