Everything that Remains: A Memoir by The Minimalists

Book Review

Miranda Hanes, Staff Writer

Everything That Remains, the moving, shocking story of when a young man achieved everything anyone would have wished upon, and then deciding to let it all go in hopes of living a life of true value.

The American Dream has two very different definitions: it’s either a dream of freedom and equality or a dream of wealth and fame.

Nowadays, the 2nd definition is what many of us strive to obtain. And for those that shake their heads in disapproval, they may just be doing it subconsciously.

What do you desire?

In the book, Everything That Remains: A Memoir by The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus write about their own experiences with the journey towards an empty life and sharing life lessons that will save many from that vacancy.

This book is a memoir about the authors’, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, voyage towards simplifying their lives.

Together, they run a blog called “The Minimalists”, where they post updates and requests on what their audience wants to hear on their next podcast. They also post updates on their current struggles and how they’re dealing with them. All revolving around the behaviors of Minimalism.

Millburn, the main author in the book, at twenty-something, had the money, the hot wife, the nice car, and the house.  He thought he had everything he’d ever wanted until he realized that his life was deteriorating before him.

After his mother’s death, Millburn went to her apartment that contained 3 apartments worth of belongings. Everything that was once his mother’s is now his own.

Every room has furniture that was too big for the room it is in. The bathroom had enough hygiene products to start a beauty salon. A closet that held a small hotel inside, sales tags on dresses she’d never worn, and jackets and coats when she lived in Florida.

But who doesn’t own clothes that they don’t wear? Who doesn’t own stuff they don’t use?

We tend to think that we need those things just in case that one day it comes in handy.

Millburn orders a U-haul that doesn’t have big enough trucks, and he calls a storage unit that can hold everything for “only” $120 a month. In the bedroom, he finds boxes and boxes, all of which have collected dust and are hidden behind doors or under furniture. Inside are things that have been saved from when he was young; almost everything is there.

But why do you save these things when you aren’t getting any value from them?

He imagines his mom standing next to him, and what she would say, “I was holding a piece of you in these” this thought angers him. HE is not what was in those boxes.

We place our memories into objects when they are really in us. Security in material, without we fear what may happen.

Millburn cancelled that truck and that unit. He went through her belongings, throwing away things, donating more, and ended up doing the same with his own things. Only keeping his favorite of his clothes and his necessary hygiene products, all of which gave him value. He realized he was chasing a dream of someone else, but the whole while he thought it was his own.

We live to work instead of working to live. We place money before happiness, and some of us believe that money will give us happiness, others know money to be a short lasting high. People are never truly satisfied. That purchase will get old, and they’ll seek out bigger and better things, replacing what isn’t broken. Constantly comparing themselves to the person next to them.

If people are not secure in themselves, they will find security in other things, people, possessions, and even paychecks. But what does placing your security in to temporary things solve when they disappear? When those things go away they take your security with it. Leaving you in a bigger hole than you were previously. This is a tactic that many people use to distract themselves of what is not already secure. It is important to first be whole on your own before finding temporary, unreliable stability in anything that isn’t yourself.

If we rid of most of our material possessions, our lives will be less stressful and more clear. We will spend less time worrying and carry less weight of the constant maintenance that those materials ask of us, and we will have more focused derived relationships. The immense work that once controlled our lives will diminish since we desire less. To clear anything that doesn’t hold value to you will liberate your life and allow you to be more mindful of others around you. The American Dream was not Millburn’s dream, it’s not my dream, and it may not be yours.

What do you desire?

Overall, this book was inspiring, thought-provoking, and brutally straight to the heart of humanity.