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Less is More

I have long struggled with the notion of enough. What does it mean to have enough? Can you ever be enough?

For me, it started with Marie Kondo and her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The fascination with minimalism and the idea that less is actually more (though I do thoroughly and wholeheartedly disagree with Marie’s views on books). But I digress.

From Marie’s book, I moved on to watching minimalist how-to videos on YouTube. I marveled at individuals who winnowed their whole life down to 21 items in a backpack. I admired the pristine closets with the capsule wardrobes. I was in awe of the light and airy feeling totally empty kitchen countertops evoked.

I found that the stories behind the videos were similar. A stressed-out individual decides to change their life by saying goodbye to everything they don’t absolutely need. And with that decision and a lot of boxes, the individual gains true freedom, new focus, and a real sense of gratitude. Sign me up!

But in actuality, the practice of first parsing through my possessions to determine and save only those items I truly need was hard. Actually, it was totally daunting. I was able to make some strides, getting rid of the easy stuff, which did create some open space and indeed made me feel better. But I knew I had a long way to go. I had more than I needed. I had more than I could use. Less was more, but how much less?

I was consumed with the question of enough. Was enough only what I needed? Is there a limit to enough? When does enough become too much? Is there a list of allowed items on the enough list?

Which is exactly the point at which I stumbled upon Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki.

From the very beginning, I knew that this book was different. The author was not out to evangelize or convert. He was just an “everyman” who wanted to share his journey. And he began the book with his definition of minimalism:

Doing away with the excess so that we can focus on the things that are truly important to us.

I was struck by the simplicity. Rather than focusing on what I absolutely didn’t need, focus on what was important to me. That seemed doable.

Sasaki goes on to explain why minimalism is hard; why we have accumulated so much in the first place. He questions our very habits and desires. He explores the meaning that exists behind all of the objects we have. All of which was absolutely and totally edifying.

Then there was this quote on page 253: “Because I don't own very much, I have the luxury of time.” The luxury of time. Now that is something that I had not associated with minimalism.

Stuff is not passive. Stuff wants your time, attention, allegiance.

—Dave Bruno

Finally, with all of this in mind, Sasaki goes on to provide:

  • 55 tips to help you say goodbye to your things.

  • 15 more tips for the next stage of your journey.

  • 12 ways he’s changed since he said goodbye to his things.

There it was. The objective help I needed. Both in understanding and changing my perspective and habits, and in reducing my footprint on this Earth. The 55 tips and tricks are just what I needed to keep me on my way.

While I have yet to come up with a definitive answer or list of what it means to have enough, I am making progress by focusing on what is important to me. And that is enough for right now.


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