Thursday, July 18, 2019

BOOK REVIEW Goodbye, things: on minimalist living (2017) by Fumio Sasaki

Goodbye, things: on minimalist living (2017) by Fumio Sasaki

This book was first published in Japan as Bokutachi ni mou mono was Hitsuyou Nai in 2015. A minimalist, said Fumio, an ex-messy-maximalist, is "a person who knows what is truly essential for him – or herself, who reduces the number of possessions that they have for the sake of things that are important to them." What important for each of us are vary, but the essential needs are almost similar. Minimalists "are people who know what's truly necessary for them versus what they may want for the sake of appearance, and they're not afraid to cut down on everything in the second category." It's about choosing needs rather than wants.

Minimalist is a buzzword at Japan (many years ago) and in some other countries today since the publishing of a smash-hit book by Marie Kondo in 2010, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. But for Fumio, he suspects that there are already many minimalists around but since the publishing of Marie's book, they ‘emerged' in Japan. For him, there are three major contributions to the phenomena – in the background – namely:

#1 Information and Material Overload. "…we need to get rid of the extra load that isn't needed."

#2 The Development of Technology and Services that make it possible for us to live without as man possessions as we had in the past. "…we can now get by without actually owning a lot of things.

#3 The Great East Japan Earthquake. When the not-so-recent tsunami struck the country of Japan (I was there to see the aftermath of the tragedy of tsunami. Horrible!), the people realized that "all of their cherished objects were washed away by the tsunami. Everything had been ruined."

Due to these three contributors, Fumio believes that "minimalism had to be born," the desire and fervent need to rethink our lives. I agree! Throughout the book, the author explains why he became a minimalist and why we have this habit of accumulating so many material things in the first place. Fumio also offers some basic rules and techniques for reducing our material possessions: 55 tips to help you say goodbye to your things, 15 tips for the next stage of your minimalist journey, and 12 ways he has changed since he said goodbye to his things. In short, this book is both personal, a bit of theoretical and very practical. In the last chapter, Fumio describes the different between ‘feeling' happy and ‘becoming' happy. The philosophy of minimalist is so persuasive and urgent for today. Do not be intimidated by the element of Zen Buddhism teachings (this is not a religious book I can assure you) if you're not a Buddhist. It's the way of living, not a religion.

I'm moving to my apartment this coming September. This book helps me to think through about the possessions that I have, how to design my apartment and what to buy or get away with so that I can live happier, freer and lighter. There is one tip that I don't agree with him and will never subscribe to – get rid of my books! No. Books are part of me. I will sell some but mostly I will keep. If to be minimalist means reducing unnecessary items, then books for me is a necessity. Period.

[P.s: By the way, this book remind me of why I love Japan so much. Been there and I've witnessed minimalism in action (memories such as sleeping on a block of wood). Would love to be back soon.]

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