Goodbye, more things

The first public blog post I wrote centred around my personal discovery and journey with the concept of minimalism through Sasaki Fumio’s book “Goodbye, Things.” This book had a profound impact at the time (almost five years ago now), and I’ve read it few times since, but I haven’t reflected on the impact it’s had on my life for a while now. So I thought it was time to revisit the ideas and concepts Sasaki outlines in his book and how they’ve influenced my own experiences with the concept.

At first, the impact of this concept on my life was profound. I started discarding a lot of stuff. In fact, upon reflection I couldn’t believe how much stuff I actually had! It reminded me of when I first moved out of home and had to move all of my possessions. It’s not until you actually have to move your possessions do realise the physical and mental toll these items have on our lives. It didn’t hit me straight away that I needed to start discarding to get more out of my new independent life, but I distinctly remember thinking “wow, I really have too much stuff” - before forgetting about the impact the moving experience had on me. Upon reflection, this moment did have a longer-lasting impact because once I had read Sasaki’s book, I was able to apply his experiences to my own through that initial recognition and decided to give minimising a go. And I never looked back - I’ve become more of the person I want to be as a result of this change.

Some things were much harder to discard than others. But once I started with the small things (such as misplaced rubbish and old clothes) I could more easily move on to the larger things. Not physically larger, but the things that also lived rent-free in my heart. The minimising process gave me the ultimate realisation that I no longer wanted to produce music, with the recording and audio equipment I had covering my entire desk sold for a reasonable price. I even had a four-drawer filing cabinet full of documents, many of which needed to be kept in one form or another. But after realising I could add these documents to my already-sorted digital filing system, I knew that they could live there too. So I digitised an entire filing cabinet, shredded the physical papers (except for some that I have no choice but to keep from a legal perspective) and sold the filing cabinet. More room! The result was a huge breath of fresh air, and I was convinced I wanted to discard more. I craved the fresh air. And in indeed discarded more.

I can understand why people resist the urge to discard their things. I’ll admit, there were times when I thought it had become difficult. I found some birthday and Christmas cards sitting in a pile and couldn’t convince myself to immediately discard them, but after realising I could digitise these as well, I had no qualms in discarding these either. This is because I could transfer the memories of these physical objects into a digital repository which didn’t take up any physical room. It’s no different to taking a photo with your phone because the digital space is storing that memory, like a backup of your life. This is when digital minimalism started to become an important aspect of the decluttering and minimising process for me, but is something I’ve covered before and will cover in more detail later.

So at this moment - what have I learned after the last five years as a self-proclaimed ‘minimalist’? I’ve learned that you can truly manifest a sense of freedom by discarding the things that are weighing you down. It can be hard to feel it at first, but eventually as you begin to enjoy the process, its effects are very noticeable. Today, I would consider my minimising project a success; albeit I have purchased more stuff since, but stuff I carefully consider and ensure will add value to my life in the now. We’ll just have to wait and see if it sticks over the next five years. But I’ll admit: Just writing this blog post makes me feel like discarding some more stuff.

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