As you leave a museum, you’re often forced to exit through the gift shop. It’s consumerism’s last gasp. And, sadly, it works. Every time my daughter, Ella, bounds through the knickknacks, tchotchkes, and souvenirs, she begs to bring one home:
“Can I get something? Please!”
“What do you want?”
“I don’t know—anything!”
That’s what consumerism does to everyone. We don’t know what we want, but we know we want more, and we want it now! We don’t even stop to think about it—to question what might add value to our lives, to question what might get in the way. But if we don’t question everything we bring into our lives, we’ll allow anything in.
The message of minimalism, then, is simple: If you didn’t need it five minutes ago, you probably don’t need it now. And even if you do, it wouldn’t hurt to wait.
If I tell Ella to ask me tomorrow whether she can buy that useless widget, she almost always forgets. That’s because we remember only that which is meaningful, and all the ephemera dissipates into the ether.