We are a family of four and we own 56 chairs. I know this because we recently moved and consolidated our two houses into one, which gave me the opportunity to inventory all of our possessions.
It probably goes without saying that we do not have room for nor do we need 56 chairs. We live in a regular 3 bedroom house and we don’t host music or sporting events, so 56 chairs feels excessive.
Additionally, these 56 chairs are among the many many other things standing between me and the minimalist lifestyle to which I aspire.
Minimalism, in case you missed it, is trending as a tool to rid yourself of life’s excesses in favor of focusing on what’s important. Minimalists search for happiness not through things, but through life itself–fewer possesions, less clutter, fewer distractions and things to clean and maintain and find space for. More time, more mind share for family, experiences and creative and strategic thinking.
There are all kinds of “minimalist gurus” in the media and on the Internet proselytizing this trend through their books, websites, podcasts and documentaries. They offer tips and tricks for consuming less and case studies of families who have reduced their possessions by 91% and now live in “tiny houses,” with less than 500 square feet for 6 people and the family pets.
But let’s get back to my 56 chairs. Minimalism only works if everyone in the house is on board and since each person values items differently, it is extremely difficult to reach consensus around what goes and what stays. Each of our 56 chairs has a purpose and a value, be it present, past, or future, for someone in the family, myself included.
Fortunately, I am married to a kind and rationale human being who is open to reducing our chair inventory (right, honey?). However, it will require a lot of negotiation and discussion to determine which chairs make the cut. And for the chairs that don’t make the cut, we must determine what to do with them and then actually do it.
Finding homes for a dozen mismatched chairs will take some time and energy that should be spent doing something else. And this is, I believe, the real reason American’s make terrible minimalists. Most of us are not up to the monumental task of clearing out what we have already amassed.
Some of our chairs: