Title: Everything that Remains
My rating: 5/5
What if everything you ever wanted isn’t what you actually want? Twenty-something, suit-clad, and upwardly mobile, Joshua Fields Millburn thought he had everything anyone could ever want. Until he didn’t anymore. Blindsided by the loss of his mother and his marriage in the same month, Millburn started questioning every aspect of the life he had built for himself. Then, he accidentally discovered a lifestyle known as minimalism…and everything started to change.
That was four years ago. Since, Millburn, now 32, has embraced simplicity. In the pursuit of looking for something more substantial than compulsory consumption and the broken American Dream, he jettisoned most of his material possessions, paid off loads of crippling debt, and walked away from his six-figure career. So, when everything was gone, what was left?
Not a how-to book but a why-to book, Everything That Remains is the touching, surprising story of what happened when one young man decided to let go of everything and begin living more deliberately. Heartrending, uplifting, and deeply personal, this engrossing memoir is peppered with insightful (and often hilarious) interruptions by Ryan Nicodemus, Millburn’s best friend of twenty years.
I still have the itch to get rid of stuff all over my apartment! It’s such a great feeling and a sense of relief to discard burdens (physical or not). The concept of minimalism was first introduced to me by a colleague who was doing a 3-week minimalist challenge that she found on Pinterest. I was intrigued to say the least since she seemed happier and I was thinking about the next time I have to move, not having so much stuff with me! I watched the documentary on Netflix shortly after and was blown away by the power of this movement. I was inspired to do something and another colleague lent me this book as well as Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life also by Joshua and Ryan. Reading through, I had tons of post-its/book darts since the personal stories and challenges they shared made sense. They have a point that we miss out on more meaningful experiences because of materialism and the need to have the latest and greatest, or just have more. It’s an endless and vicious cycle we are trapped in. It really does make me question what adds value to my life and not use the dangerous phrase “just in case”. One of the strategies Joshua employed Ryan to take on was to pack up everything he owned and only unpack what he needed for the next 21 days. Afterwards, he was “to do one of three things with everything remaining in boxes: sell, donate, trash” (Millburn and Nicodemus 86). Ingenious! And simple!
What is truly wonderful is knowing that both of these men came from high-paying jobs with corner offices and felt that that was not enough for them in terms of living a meaningful and valuable life. This thought process manifested from Joshua losing his mother who lived in Florida – being so consumed with his work to earn more to spend more, he missed out on times with his mom. A complete 180 ensued after he put all her belongings in storage, questioning why he was doing that. One of my friends shared with me that there are almost as many storage facilities (not individual units) as there are McDonald’s in the U.S. What are we doing with all that ‘stuff’? Why do we have it?
There ar few books that make me want to transform my lifestyle, and the Minimalists’ stories definitely do that for me. I have set up a day once a month to clean and purge my apartment of stuff that 1. I don’t see value in and/or 2. Don’t or Haven’t used. It’s so elating dropping off these items to Goodwill or throwing out huge bags of trash in the dumpster. Like the weight of the stuff is actually lifted off of me and I have more room for margin.
More quotes to enlighten:
“…the American Dream really just seems to imply that we are fat and in debt, discontented and empty, every man an island, leaving a void we attempt to fill with more stuff” (Millburn and Nicodemus 40)
“Each of my belongings…has a function. As a minimalist, every possession serves a purpose or brings me joy” (Millburn and Nicodemus 71)
“we hold on to jobs we dislike because we believe there’s security in a paycheck. We stay in shitty relationships because we think there’s security in not being alone. We hold onto stuff we don’t need, just in case we might need it down the road in some nonexistent, more secure factor” (Millburn and Nicodemus 114)
“If I see something I want to research on the web, I can’t just jump at the impulse; I have to write it down and use that list during times of connectivity” (Millburn and Nicodemus 141)