Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism

“Minimalism had to be born, not out of a mere spur-of-the-moment idea or yearning for a new lifestyle, but from an earnest desire and fervent need to rethink our lives.”

 Fumio Sasaki, Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism

De-cluttering!

This is the catchphrase of the “first world,” now that consumerism has lost its glamour.  We are recycling our “stuff” with the same exuberance that we had when we first purchased the supposedly essential items. From a linear perspective, a radical transformation seems to have occurred between Point A and Point B, with A being the joy of purchase and B, the relief of letting go.

Minimalism is a response to a deep need to find meaning, to feel complete, to embrace a vibrant life. There are many who have adopted this concept and are now eager to help us achieve this state of bliss.  A plethora of books are ready to assist us in our pursuit of minimalistic lifestyle.

  • The Joy of Less,  A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize and Simplify Your Life by Francine Jay
  • Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus
  • The More of Less: Finding the Life You want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker
  • Etc., Etc. Etc.

I chose to read Fumio Sasaki’s Goodbye Things: The New Japanese Minimalism as my first foray into the world of minimalism. Fumio Sasaki lives in a 215-square-foot Tokyo apartment with a small wooden box, a desk, and a roll-up futon pad to keep him company.

“Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have…”

Fumio Sasaki, Goodbye, Things:  The New Japanese Minimalism.

Goodbye, Things focuses on an inner journey, a reflection of personal fears and aspirations.  Defining what it means to be full and complete is a responsibility that cannot be delegated.   Do we use “things” as a source of validation?  A way of comparison?   Or to conform to a social structure or expectation?

Fumio chose a new way of living, one that honours his personal values. Minimalism was his way of introducing harmony and a sense of freedom to explore new opportunities.  In Goodbye, Things, he shares his insights in a way that encourages readers to consider a “less is more” existence.

The desire to achieve balance and live in peace with ourselves is deeply rooted in our philosophies and mythologies.  As the Greek Stoic philosopher, Epictetus, advised centuries ago, “Contentment comes not so much from great wealth as from few wants.”

De-cluttering seems to be a universal theme that has been with us throughout history. Perhaps, each generation must discover this in their own way.

   “Minimalism is built around the idea that there’s nothing that you’re lacking.””

Fumio Sasaki quoting Rabbi Hyman Schachtel

 

31 Comments

  1. Jilanne Hoffmann

    We struggle with minimalism in our house. We are makers, so you never know when you’ll need that discarded box, fragment of cloth, coil of wire, roll of duct tape, etc….our garage is a maker space, cluttered with stuff. But it bleeds into our house, where I have piles of books, manuscripts, papers, mail, dog toys, photos, artwork, etc. We are not minimalists. Is there such a thing as a maximalist? Not that we’re hoarders, or anything. I do like the idea of minimalism. Practice is beyond my ability. Perhaps when our son is no longer living in our house….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother

      Your words resonate with my experience. I will never embrace Fumio’s idea of minimalism – I need my comfy sofa and my bookshelves filled with my many “book-friends.” I think that my purchasing habits have changed over the past couple of years and I have de-cluttered my closet of those clothes that don’t fit. No – I will never get done to that size again. I have learned that every kitchen gadget doesn’t fit into my cupboard. (Sigh) Now that I’m going through my father’s photos and notes, I recognize that I must learn how to preserve them in a way (digitally?!) that my family can benefit from them. I think minimalism takes many forms – that it is unique to an individual’s creative spirit. I have a feeling that I would feel at home at your place. Thank you so much for your insightful comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. myplaidheart

    I’m glad we have connected too! Agree on all points. I think of digital media as an example. As much as I love the feel of a book in my hands, I also like that almost all of my book purchases these days are on my Kindle. The only physical books I possess now are my classics and those that are my absolute favorites. I recently went through a purge of clutter in our home. Some of it I consigned, some of it I chucked, most of it I donated. My criteria for keeping things: 1. Is it essential for my daily living? 2. Is it so sentimental that I just can’t part with it? 3. Does it make me happy? If it doesn’t meet any of those criteria then it’s most likely just taking up space. One of my favorite movies is “Enchanted April”. In one line, the character Caroline Dester says, “It’s a good feeling, getting rid of things.” I so agree!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. myplaidheart

    Years ago I worked for an organization where I taught small children from underprivileged families. I had to do home visitations also. A few of my families were Kurdish refugees who lived in crummy, little apartments with barely anything to call their own. And yet they were some of the most generous people I have ever met. They took so much joy in sharing with me what blessings they did have. By contrast, we who have “plenty” can sometimes be very protective of our “stuff”, accumulating, hoarding, and holding onto it for dear life. I think it’s so good to re-evaluate this concept from time to time and remember that stuff is just stuff. We can’t take it wth us when we die. There is much happiness to be gained when we find our worth outside of our possessions. Excellent and thought provoking post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother

      “Stuff is just stuff” – you are so right. Thank you for your excellent comments and for adding depth and breadth to the conversation. We are living in a time of rapidly evolving technology that brings on feelings of uncertainty. A response may be to hold on to what we fear we are losing – as you noted “holding onto it for dear life.” I was reading about adaptation this morning and came across Albert Einstein’s quote: “the measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” The important point for me is not to see when change is needed – that is the easy part. Rather, how to incorporate the “change” within my daily interactions. My relationship to “stuff” is one indication of whether I have adapted to new possibilities. Delighted we have connected.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother

      You have a marvelous outlook on life and your enthusiasm inspires us all. Thank you for sharing your joy of living which comes out in every post, every comment and every share. Sending hugs across the strait. Have a wonderful weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. elisabethm

    Fumio Sasaki’s theory about minimalism is fascinating. It’s interesting to see how he reasons. It’s almost like those people who leave everything behind and become ‘wanderers’. I’m a great believer in de-cluttering, but I don’t think I’d be happy with just a box, desk and futon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother

      I’m in hearty agreement – I need the comfort of pillows, sofas, lights and warm blankets. Most of all, my book collection that has been culled to the bare minimum. You thought on becoming “wanderers” is significant. There is a time of wandering and a time of rest. Fumio has not reached the “rest” time in his life so it would be interesting to revisit him in 30 years. Experience and time are great influencers. As Basho Matsuo writes: “Hidden and unknown Like the new moon I will live my life.” Thank you for adding depth and breadth to this discussion. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. elisabethm

        A time of wandering and a time of rest, yes, that would make sense. I wonder if people like Fumio can live their whole lives in such perfection? It also creates problems, what if you get a present? Are you going to be impolite and refuse? Will Marie Kondo’s wardrobe be an unorganised mess in 30 years?
        I’m with you, on the couch, with a blanket and a pillow and loving my books. Ok, I do try to get rid of the ones that I won’t read again, but many are dear and treasured friends, that I’d like to keep forever.
        “We are bequeathed on earth one very short life, and it might be good, one of these days, to make sure we are living it” – Katie Roiphe, In Praise of Messy Lives.
        Hugs from my couch to yours!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Clanmother

        I love that wonderful quote. I’ve just borrowed it from the Vancouver Public Library. Thanks you for the recommendation. I’m with you – books are treasured friends and kindred spirits that lead me on amazing adventures. Good night from Vancouver. The pillows are ready…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. elisabethm

        Very true! I enjoyed Katie’s Praise of Messy Lives, she is a talented writer and it’s so refreshing in this age of fit-girls etc. to hear a different point of view. We are only human after all;-). Take care, good night, Rebecca! Libraries are of course a good way to keep your house clutter free;-)

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Ms Frances

    What a valuable post, to say the least! Your author has found joy and contentment in a very small place. I understand that so very well. We need to “get rid” of unnecessary things! There are personal problems in this for me–how do we get rid of things that have memories and meaning? How do we get rid of things that no one wants—not even charities. Currently, I am trying to find those who want and can use “brand new” things/ Thank you for this good and encouraging post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother

      You bring up an excellent point – many charities are becoming more selective in accepting our donations. Check out this recent article that speaks to this topic:

      We connect things to people, places and events. When we say goodbye to those things we believe we are saying goodbye to precious memories. One of my neighbours has taken photos as part of the letting go process. Thank you for your encouraging comments. Hugs!

      Like

    1. Clanmother

      You are so right!! How can it be?!! Here’s one of Fumio’s thoughts that I think will resonate with you, given that we live in a highly competitive society with shrinking resources. “Minimalism is not a rite of penance, nor is it a competitive sport. It is simply a means to an end.” No one ever quantifies “shrinking resources” but I have a feeling that our North American society has reached a tipping point that acknowledges that we need to rethink our lifestyle and recognize that we belong to a global world. I am delighted that we have connected. I enjoy our conversations.

      Like

    1. Clanmother

      For me too, Gallivanta. It has been two years and there is still work to be done. I am in the process of digitizing photos, which includes research on what type of file systems will be created in the future. Will I be able to transfer from jpegs to something new. I love the research, and I love the feeling of being free of things. You were my first inspiration to start this project. We have come a long way together. I thought you would like this video! http://youtu.be/PqBJOVTogdU

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Gallivanta

        I LOVE the video. I don’t think I could live quite as simply as that but I think I could get close to that state,,,,,,maybe. Photos are tricky. One thing which occurs to me is sending special ones to community archives at the library. Libraries are usually very good at storing, and upgrading when necessary. That is something for me to work on/research.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother

      I agree, Cindy – those ancient traditions are firmly embedded within someone as young as Fumio. That is one of the reasons why I chose this book. What I found most interesting was the way Fumio used quotes from different philosophical perspectives: Francois de la Rochefoucauld, Rabbi Hyman Schachtel, Chris McCandless, to name a few. Saying goodbye to his things was saying hello to something fresh, invigorating. Fumio represents a new generation that is globally connected and willing to embrace diversity as strength. Thank you so much for your insightful comments, Cindy. Hugs!

      Like

    1. Clanmother

      Thank you, Liz! I am responding to you from a coffee shop in North Vancouver. There is a buzz of activity – friends meeting friends and lots of discussions interspersed with laughter. If there is a shopping bag present, it is filled with produce from the local grocer. Moments are priceless. “Things” simply cannot compete in this arena. Sending love to you and your wonderful family. Enjoying your new blog!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Liz

        You are spot on as usual. We are staying in a small but perfect apartment in Paris – it totally emphasises how much one can enjoy experiences without needing lots of ‘stuff’ around. Thanks also for the BasB support which both Rachel & I value so much xxx

        Liked by 1 person

You're invited to join the dialogue!

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s