minimalism makes you strong at the broken places

The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.

-Ernest Hemingway

As I get closer to the end of the year-long minimizing project I set out on, I find that the times of calm and peace are punctuated by times of stress and challenge.

It turns out that minimalism is hard.

But not in ways you would expect.

Calming your mind, quieting your space, gives you time to really get to know who you are. But some of the answers you find might not be comfortable.

Awareness can bring more discontent.

Buying, consuming, and accumulating can be an addiction. It fills a spot in your mind and soul but in a counter-productive way. And if it’s an addiction, there is withdrawal.

All of the gaps in you that shopping filled are still there. Now the hard work begins of finding something to fill that space that adds to the world instead of adding to your storage area.

This week I came across the Japanese repair technique called kintsugi. It is an old method used specifically on pottery. Instead of disposing of a broken piece of pottery, or trying to fix it so it appears it was never broken, kintsugi uses gold leaf paint to draw attention to the break.

It celebrates the broken place as part of the history of the object, not as something that should be hidden.

I encounter a lot of folks on a minimalism journey who show regret or embarrassment for how they used to see the world. They want to pretend that they are a new person now.

I disagree. I always want to recognize that the choices I made, right and wrong, led me to where I am. Every time I think of a day that I bought and bought, filling up my shelves and trying to chip away at a bottomless “want list,” I am reminded that the cracks in me were always there.

We are all the sum of our damage.

And some of that has been repaired. The scars are shown in gold.

And we are stronger for it.


The Youtuber Nerdwriter did an excellent video on this (and I had chosen the Hemingway quote for the top of this piece before watching. great minds)