Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki

Guess what, I’m here! Keeping up my schedule like a boss. I’ve decided to alternate each week with a fiction and nonfiction book, so because the last one was fiction, this week we’re going nonfiction.

I’m still loving that simple, authentic living is on trend, because I’ve always enjoyed reading about it and I fantasize leaving most of my possessions behind and starting fresh in a little cabin in the woods like every other second. And it feels really weird to call minimalist living a “trend,” since it’s a lifestyle, but whatever. Moving on.

Since I tend to snatch up anything I see at the libraries on tiny houses, minimalism, simple living, I saw Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki and figured it would be right up my alley (it was. I scarfed that book down almost in one sitting).

Premise:

Goodbye, Things is about the author’s personal journey with minimalism and also about guidance in becoming a minimalist yourself, whatever that may mean to you. To one person it means getting their possessions down to fit in a backpack, to another it may be to get possessions down to fit in a one bedroom apartment comfortably. All of the pictured examples at the beginning of the book were too extreme for my own life, but that’s okay. I’m never going to be a person who only has a futon and a cooking pot in their home. It’s fine that someone else is, but I personally need a few more things than that to feel comfortable and happy in my home.

The first part of the book asks the question “Why do we accumulate so much in the first place?” and suggests some answers supported by the author’s research. The next section includes 70 tips to “help you say goodbye to your things,” and the last part explains 12 ways that living a more minimal life has affected the author in a positive way.

Everything I Learned from this Book:

I’ve read quite a few books with similar subject matter like Marie Kondo’s The Magical Art of Tidying Up and Francine Jay’s The Joy of Less (If you have also read and enjoyed these, I think you’ll really enjoy Goodbye, Things as well), so I was doubtful this book could tell me something I didn’t already know. And while it’s true that a lot of what Sasaki had to say was just a re-hashing of other advice I’d already read, there were a few points he had that stuck out to me. Also a lot of the book just served as a good reminder of the way I actually want to be living my life.

  1. Reducing your possessions to what actually makes you happy and what you need helps you to no longer suffer from caring what other people think. Sasaki mentions in the book that he used to have a massive collection of CDs and books in his apartment. When he started actually taking a good look at what he owned he realized that almost his entire collection of entertainment were things he bought only to extend a certain image of himself to visitors–that he was intelligent, creative, and interesting. That resonated with me because I used to do the exact same thing. I bought books I thought other people (usually people of the male variety who I had a crush on) would find impressive and listened to music I thought others would like, but I didn’t love any of it. I realized it’s actually rather discourteous to yourself to surround yourself with things you think other people would like, but nothing that you actually love. How could you ever feel happy in that setting?
  2. You seriously won’t regret anything you re-home. I always assume I’m going to instantly start pining for something I donate, but that has never happened. I’ve always been that person who throws the entire contents of my closet into a bin and shove it in my parents’ attic out of sight because I know I’ll of course need it someday. I’ll without a doubt come searching for that old birdhouse I painted and that wrinkled poster of the Jonas Brothers! But I don’t. I go up there a year later and say, “what the hell is all this shit?” and throw or donate it all anyway. So when I ask, “will I regret giving this away,” the answer will be no. Just effing toss the 20 button down shirts that don’t even fit over your boobs, Em. Don’t kid yourself, those honkers are NEVER getting smaller.
  3. Sasaki speaks a lot about the importance of being grateful for what you have, since people tend to get used to things so quickly that it’s not long before they want something new or different. It’s not innovative advice, for sure, but it really is a good reminder to just STOP once in a while and reflect on what you have and what is so amazing in your life. If you do that enough you realize you most likely have everything you need.
  4. One piece of advice that’s different from Marie Kondo’s all-in-one-go philosophy is starting out small to build up your discarding defenses. Say, start by tossing all your underwear with holes and expired food. Eventually you’re going to realize it just feels good to rid yourself of things you don’t need.
  5. Fight the urge to fill EVERY SINGLE EMPTY SPACE. Sometimes, a wall’s just gotta be blank. This is something I’m still trying to learn. Unless it makes you happy to fill a wall with 37 porcelain cat plates. Then go for it, I guess.
  6. Are you keeping a bunch of stuff because you like that reminder of who you used to be? Do you keep that weird crop AE sweatshirt because it reminds you of being 15 and not having a care in the world? Get rid of it, you’ll still remember, I promise. Plus if you’re pining this much for the past, I’m pretty damn sure you’re not doing much in the present.
  7. I like the way Sasaki advises to treat stores like “your personal warehouses.” They house everything you need, and they’ll always be there, so there’s no need to house everything you may ever need in the future in your own home. This kind of goes hand in hand with his advice to think of buying certain things as “renting.” Or actually just renting something when you need it. For a lot of occasions it really makes a hell of a lot more sense.
  8. Never accept ANYTHING just because it’s cheap or free. You’ll regret it and end up getting rid of it anyway.
  9. Apparently they have a lot of advice in Fight Club. I’ve never watched it, but I have a feeling that Sasaki has about 50 times. I get it, if it was my book, I’d fit in a Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings quote every chance I got.

If you’re anything like me, about halfway through this book you’re going to get really fired up to do a bit of spring cleaning. FOLLOW THAT INSTINCT. Put the book down and just do it while you have the motivation and energy. Otherwise you’ll make yourself finish the book first, be too tired to clean, and lay in front of the TV and marathon The Flash for 3 hours before passing out. I may be speaking from experience.

I hope eventually I actually have the courage to follow all the advice I love to read and only keep things that actually matter to me. Until then, my parent’s attic (and any of my closets) will forever look like the Room of Requirement via Half Blood Prince and Deathly Hollows before the fire burns it all up.

All right I’m off for a run now (that actually wasn’t a joke so stop laughing). See you all Thursday!

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