We want to be transformed. America was created as a place where a poor immigrant could become a successful businessman, where a boy born in a backwoods cabin could become President, and where a college dropout could create Apple. The people's heart is in their stories. We are obsessed with ragged servants becoming beautiful, paper pushers becoming superheroes, awkward geeks becoming princesses. Cinderella, The Matrix, The Princess Diaries, Spiderman.
Advertisements offer us this transformation. Beauty advertisements don't just promise gorgeous, they promise new. Reforged. With the right haircut, mascara, and wardrobe, a wealth of rebellious opportunities unfold. Elope to Costa Rica with your true love. Quit your brain-sucking 8 to 5 job, dazzle the seven continents with your guitar. Yep, even the penguins. All it takes is this plasma TV, this Starbucks cappuccino, this iPad, and you're a star.
We think we can buy transformation, but we can't. Transformation will never come from a tube, it's a fruit of the heart. Transformation is alive. It cannot be applied, it must be grown.
Minimalism sheds stuff. When a minimalist looks at herself and sees dying dreams, she cannot blame it on expired club memberships, her outdated wardrobe, or her dilapidated toaster. She can only blame herself. This is a painful place, but it gives her the opportunity to see her real roadblocks, perhaps fear or conflicting desires. When she works to weed them out and nurture seeds of hope, her dreams can grow into transformation.
Stuff isn't bad. But it will never fix you.
Open a blank document and explore yourself. Have you fallen for stuff's promises of transformation? Write a page of sentences like the one below:
If I just had (Chanel), I would (dazzle interviewers and bag my dream job).
Read your sentences aloud to yourself (in a soundproof cell, of course). Is it possible to accomplish your dreams without the stuff? How would you begin to fulfill one today?