I was an Aspie before it was cool or even a thing. Aspies are programmed to be minimalists and were minimalists before minimalism was popular. I love beating the crowd.
I went looking for my featured image for this post. I tried google image searches for minimalist homes. I tried looking for a bed or a chair in a room. I tried to look for a kitchen that I liked. No matter how hard I tried to find the perfect image, I kept thinking to myself…
“There is too much stuff in these pictures.”
“It is all laid out wrong.”
“Why do they need to hang all those things on the walls?”
“What is the purpose of that basket?”
I ended up settling on an image of a spacious empty room. In your mind feel free to clutter it with purpose later. For now let’s enjoy it for its simplicity and possibility.
I wasn’t always this way or was I? Growing up I remember stuff. I lived a very common middle-class childhood. Stuff was always around. I think it was important for me to have stuff at some level. The toys that triggered interests were the best. I did not keep things perfectly clean, but I also did not like having messes everywhere. My parents sent us children to our room as a punishment. It did not take my parents long to realize that this didn’t work with me. Sending me to my room was like throwing Br’er Rabbit into the brier patch. Oh no! I don’t have to interact with anyone. For how long? A long time. OK. I can spend several hours interacting with my toys. For a child on the spectrum alone time for misbehavior is a positive reinforcement. The parental disapproval of the action was a far greater dissuasion. I have home movies of my room. I would pan around describing all my stuff and its allotted space. I would also share stories about how it came into my possession.
So what is the significance of all this as it relates to being a minimalist. Let’s spin around the sun a few more orbital periods in the future direction. I started to find interests outside of my room. Interests tended to be outside, at my father’s work or in our shop building. When this occurred my bedroom transformed from a container holding my interests to a place to sleep and hold my clothes. I did not care that I slept on my parents old bed. It suited me. I did not need to have new dressers. I ended up using my childhood dressers until I made my own in High School wood shop. Birthday and Christmas gifts followed my interests’ exodus from the house. The house became a place of biological necessity. It still remained a haven from social chaos. The challenge became creating a comfortable and functional space. It was then that I began to realize that I liked simple and uncluttered.
Let me describe what I refer to as the Aspie Paradox. I think this is as a result of having one foot in this world and the other foot in the Aspie world. Examples of this paradox are as follows…
Burning desire to have close friends. <-> Discomfort in social interactions and social behaviors which promote friendship.
Desire to be seen as a member of a group. <-> Why would I ever want to be a part of a group?
Super strong emotions about someone or something. <-> Alexithymia takes over and while you feel emotion deeply, you don’t know how to react so you remain stoic or over react. With things no problem. With people…big problem.
I want to be liked for who I am. <-> Who do I need to be in order to be liked?
Why doesn’t everyone see it my way? <-> Why would anyone see it their way?
I am really uncomfortable with all this stuff and don’t like it around me anymore. <-> I have made other people feel bad for throwing things away, giving them away or breaking things when I took them apart to see how they worked or to build (insert some project here which was super cool at the time. No wait. That was super cool. I just don’t need it. I can play with it in my brain any time and not have it cluttering my space.) I better keep it.
The problem for the Minimalist-Aspie is that you don’t want to surround yourself with things. Unfortunately we have not reached a point in advancement whereby we can manifest anything and de-manifest anything in an instant. It works in my brain, why not in the real world. I think this is part of the reason why video games and computers are so attractive to Aspies. We can create our own worlds in a medium that negates the Aspie Paradox. When we have navigated the seas of our mental activities, we can turn the computer off.
I would encourage younger people who might be dealing with interest clutter to find ways to externalize interests. Find jobs relating to your interest so that you can play with them in the job box and then come home to your comfortable space. If you have interest creep over the years, move to different types of jobs in your interest areas. Find people with shared interests in the community that can connect you with places that provide interest locations. Keep those interests at home if they do not create problems with the sanctity of your home space.
My ideal home would include a comfortable chair for reading and relaxing. A simple kitchen with a small table for eating. A bed and a room to store it. I would love to suspend gravity nocturnally so that I wouldn’t need a bed. I don’t understand why we need clothes. Reluctantly I need a place to keep clothes. Hopefully as few as possible. A bathroom for showers and hygiene related activities. Inefficient biological necessities though they are. This is my ideal house. If we use something of utility regularly, it is included. Anything else needs to go.
Enter the interests… So… Ideally I would have a collocation facility for my computer and networking needs. It would be connected to the internet with redundant multi-gigabit connections. There would be a full wood shop, a full metal shop and a science lab. The fish and plants would grow huge in my aquaponic greenhouse. Look at the beautiful acres of gardens. Part of the electrical power comes from several acres of solar panels. There are Large barns and chicken coops. There are lakes and ponds connected by canals which are diverted to hydroelectric power generators. A golf course with a driving range is right next to the space port. You get the picture. Now look at the bottom right hand corner of that picture. Do you see the red button that says done? I am going to push that now and spend some time in my empty room. Imagine a desk with a computer on it. Think nerdier. There you go. Chair, table, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. Why is there mail on the table? I will take care of that don’t worry. I will go ahead and do it now. See. Everything where it belongs. Simple.