Stuff: time to go minimalist

Akira demonstrates stuff taking up space
Akira taking up space

Now that I’ve decided to throw everything away and follow my dreams, I’ve become much more focused on my goals.  Train lots, check.   Save money, check.  Start new blog to gain internet fandom, check and check.  There’s really not that much to it.  But the one thing I am finding tough is getting rid of all my stuff.

After I left uni and got my own place, it really seemed like a good idea to collect bookcases, a couple of sofas, a fridge-freezer, a multi-function wardrobe, etc.  I used to look around my flat and think, “yeah, now that’s a sweet pad.”  Now I look and think, “why is my pad still full of crap?”

Getting rid of stuff

I looked into renting a self-storage unit and piling everything into there, waiting snugly for the day I wend my way back home.  This was a genius idea I thought – an idea of the calibre I expect when I unite all essential fatty acids in one meal.  The major flaw in the plan became apparent when I checked their websites.  I thought they were offering a unit to store my things for a year, but it turns out all their units are lined with ethereal gold and blessed by a child of pure wisdom.  Or something must explain those numbers.  Hundreds and thousands of £££ I could be using to explore Japan!  No way.  So I’ve decided to sell/give/chuck everything I can’t bung into friends’ attics, which seems like a good compromise.

Now, the thing about stuff is that you have a lot of it.  Everywhere I go in my flat there’s stuff.  Stuff everywhere.  Every room is different and filled with different kinds of stuff in different shapes and sizes.  Big stuff, small stuff, square stuff, round stuff, stuff stuff.  Apparently I’m not the first person to have noticed this as a lot of my stuff seems specifically designed to help organise and house my other stuff.

This new way of looking at things leaves the flat with me, so when I’m round friends’ houses, one of the things I notice now is how their stuff differs from my stuff, and how they’ve found enough stuff to fill all of their house with it, despite having twice as many rooms as I do.

Stuff is good, but it’s bad too.  Everyone goes crazy for free things, but how much things do you really use?  All the unused things are exacting a silent tax on you.  There’s no such thing as free stuff.  For every extra piece of stuff you have, the harder it is to pick up and leave.  Stuff ties you down.  Stuff costs you time, money and space.  And when opportunity knocks, it makes you want to say, “sorry opportunity, you’re too inconvenient.”  That’s so backwards.  Stuff is the inconvenience.

I’m so wise…  Thanks fatty acids.

Minimalism is a good idea. Probably.

Soon my flat will be a spartan experience fit for Leonidas himself.  Getting rid of my things is such a pain though.  Maybe I should just leave my door unlocked and trick a burglar into doing all the work for me.  Is that a good idea?  Ever since I decided to quit my job and move on my own to a place with a lower level of happiness than Turkmenistan, I find it hard to distinguish good ideas from bad anymore.  Maybe a beer will help.

… Nope.  Always worth a try though.   Anyway, stuff is a crux.  You spend your time earning money, then spend that money on stuff you hardly use, stuff that takes up your space, stuff that ties you down.  Do you really need half of the stuff you own?  You could spend that money on travelling the world, or on new experiences you can carry with you forever.

Or at least that’s what I tell myself.  I mean, I’ve gotta tell myself something to ward off the niggling feeling I’m making the biggest mistake of my life.

Matt Bowen

Matt is a blogger, budoka and software developer. He sold his things, quit his job and moved to Japan to study Japanese and martial arts. Sometimes he writes about it.

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