This week’s episode of The Minimalists podcast covers emergency preparedness. The show did its job and got me thinking. It’s a year into the pandemic. I’ve taken it for granted that minimalism has allowed Katie and I to weather this situation with aplomb.
We didn’t panic-buy or hoard early on, but we did stock up. It wasn’t because we feared shortages. I think we made reasoned decisions intended to cut down our exposure. After making 3 trips in 3 days, we shifted from going to the grocery store twice a week to once every two weeks. We could do that because we stocked up on non-perishables like flour, sugar, rice, dried beans, and coffee. If there was a situation where the shops were forced to be closed, or one of us got sick and we couldn’t go out, we’d still be able to eat.
As the year has gone on and things have become safer, we’ve gone back to twice-weekly trips. The big shift has been in the times and days we go. With masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer at the ready, we go to the shops when we know the least number of other customers will be there.
Being self-employed helped. Nothing changed drastically for us. Katie shifted from teaching and selling art to just making and selling art. We are lucky to have maintained a steady income. The reason we can be self-employed is because we live a minimalist lifestyle, and don’t have a lot of overhead that forces us to work corporate jobs.
Because we work from home, we’re used to staying in. It’s not unusual for one or both of us to throw ourselves into a project and not leave the apartment for days at a time. So we threw ourselves into projects. We saw this as an opportunity, not some punishment or act of oppression. Again, it’s an example of minimalism at work. Long ago we got into the habit of consolidating trips, and going out less, so we could spend more time engaged in uninterrupted creativity.
Minimalism: A Year Into the Pandemic
As a creative cook, we haven’t missed going out to eat. I can make most of the things we love. Our eating habits have shifted, but not because of lockdown. I still cook a big lunch, both to give us an enjoyable break in the middle of the day and to allow me another means of creative expression. Breakfast and dinner have become simple meals, usually bread, cheese, and fruit or hummus, pita, and raw vegetables.
Early in the pandemic I began daily blogging. After several months I realized that was bad for my mental health. I was spending too much time worrying about “what if” and not being present. The worry was affecting my ability to work. I didn’t need that, so I got rid of it to make more space for other things, like gratifying projects and better peace of mind.
I don’t want this to come across as a flex. There are people that are struggling with isolation, loss of work, and lack of income. I do want to express gratitude that we are so self-sufficient, and that we’ve been able to carry on fairly normally for the past year. I have to give all credit to the years spent cultivating a minimalist mindset, though. It’s given us the tools to deal with lockdown and isolation without serious negative impacts.