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Everything That Remains: A Memoir by The Minimalists Paperback – January 1, 2014
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About the Author
The Minimalists--Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus--are bestselling authors and international speakers who write and speak about living a meaningful life with less stuff. Their books include Essential: Essays by The Minimalists, Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life, As a Decade Fades: A Novel, and Everything That Remains: A Memoir. They have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Seattle Times, Toronto Star, Globe & Mail, Vancouver Sun,Village Voice, LA Weekly, and many other outlets. Visit the authors online at TheMinimalists.com.
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That being said, I wanted to read the book. Ultimately, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't the best I've ever read, either. The book itself, I have to rate 4 stars, but I put the rating as 3 for a couple of reasons.
The message in the story is great, but it's reiterated several times. Not in a conclusive manner, either. The best way that I could describe it is that the author needed filler and a conclusion to every chapter or paragraph. When he wasn't able to conclude in the best way possible, he circled around the same ideas; not unlike every person writing a dreaded essay of 500 words, where they're 50 words short of completion.
The descriptiveness. It was over the top. There are other reviews that discuss it, and they aren't lying...it was almost like this:
"The gray, cloudy sky strew cold, wet, aqua droplets onto the sharpened grass below. We were surrounded by the bitter chill of the day, as we looked out at the icy scenery in front of us."
Really, what you want them to say is: we get it. You were outside on a cold day and it was rainy. Move along. The descriptions in the book...well, they speak for themselves.
Lastly, the verbiage used. Another reviewer said it appeared as though the author had a thesaurus or dictionary handy. It's apparent throughout the book in the addition of words that are just unnecessary.
Overall, the books message is worth the read. I just wish they would have trimmed the fat on it a little bit, and kept with the main story. The extras just worked against it.
1. In 2007 I was working for a great start up in Ohio - I thought the time was right to buy a home - I did - a good condo. 6 months after passing papers the company I was working for closed down - I had to move.
2. I decided then to move to Florida and start a business. I could not imagine parting with everything in my condo (value of items were about $2,500 at most) - so I spent $3,500 to move everything to Florida - and keep it in storage until I found a permanent home for myself.
3. I found an apartment in Florida - moved in with my stuff - business was doing OK - so why not upgrade? After my lease was up I chose a newer nicer apartment - that needed all new stuff - paid $500 to have my old stuff disposed of - as thrift stores did not want it.
4. At this point - I am starting to make the connection that the things around me do not make me happy - but experiences do - my new business fails - and I need to downgrade again (keep in mind only 1.5 years after I moved into the nicer apartment with new stuff) - for the first time I consider just going into a studio and getting rid of almost everything - but not at appoint where I can stomach that - I do what then - find a better priced apartment that can fit my belongings.
5. While I find a job - money is very tight - after a year - I say let's give the studio a try - move in with my mattress, desk, small table and TV only - and found the freedom that came with the low rent incredible! But again - make another mistake when my fortunes turn for the better and upgrade to a great apartment building with great amenities (that I never use). Following this upgrade I am stuck at home - can't afford to eat out due to my high rent (I love eating out / going out).
6. Get a job overseas - great job - have a choice between living in temporary hotel or full permanent apartment - I take the apartment - why not - it is a bit more expensive but I will be there for 5 years (my colleagues had been there for 10) - I fully furnish the apartment (total investment probably $20,000) - and guess what - layoffs announced - while I find a new job very quickly - it is in another country - I sell my belongings for $4,000.
7. At this stage, I am FINALLY starting to get it - when I arrive at my current assignment - I forgo the apartment - and stay in a month to month hotel - paying cash - small amount - and guess what - I could not be happier. Also - through this process I have paired my belongings down to that what fits into a suitcase.
Yes - if you follow this journey - I was probably forced into moving towards the minimalist lifestyle due to circumstances that are unique to me - but what the above does not detail is my evaluation over these years of what brings value to me and what does not. I love experiences - eating out, traveling - and to be honest if I am on a 15 hour flight I would not even hesitate to pay for business class - on the other hand my homes filled with "possessions" never added any value to my life - they actually took away - because the money spent to fill these homes and the weight of the belongings kept me home to pay for them - when I would have rather been out having a nice dinner. The fact that I can fit my life into a suitcase could not make me happier - I do not feel that I am missing out on anything - and I have never felt richer. Now - the truth of the matter is - with digital everything over the past 5 years - times have changed. I have my pictures, music, books, TV series - all available via apps / sites. I can keep in touch with family and friends with mobile as well.
What I have detailed above may align with much of what is described in this read - but may not align with everything - this I believe is a key point. It is your life - your money - and your time - what is important is that you understand what truly brings value to you and spend only on that. For you - it may be a 5 bedroom 2 living room home - maybe you wish to have this instead of traveling and eating out - if you can genuinely say that makes you happy then go for it - with no guilt.
We live in a capitalist society that is kept going from over the top levels of consumption. Think of one example - the US auto industry - what would happen to this if everyone decided to keep a car for 10 years (which is very possible) - think about the lost revenue, jobs, taxes lost. Now apply this to everything you are subtly programmed to buy from a very young age - and the debt we are all forced into. While it is this "American Dream" that keeps our country afloat - it is also this dream that subtly stops us from living the rich lives we wish to. Do not worry anymore about keeping up with the Joneses, or meeting the requirements of the American Dream - as the only dream that matters is yours....