We went out first thing in the morning to a charity shop today, with four bags of clothes. This is the first time I donated my clothes to a charity shop – but the charity shop is not my point today. More importantly, our house now contains 4 less bags of rubbish.
It doesn’t sound like a big achievement. But I know inside that bottom left drawer, there is no longer a creased skirt that “one day I might wear”. Last time I wore that skirt, it was the Christmas two years ago. There was a top and a long skirt that I made by hand – underline “by hand”. A bright pink handbag that came all the way from China as a wedding present – underline “wedding present from China”. A pricy top with a small hole in that “one day I would fix” – underline “pricy”. I held on to them for years. Every time I saw them, I felt frustrated – I didn’t finish the hem very well, what an ugly handbag, I still haven’t fixed that hole! Now they’re all free to fulfil their purposes on someone else, with a bit ironing or mending. I’m not stressed anymore either.
断捨離 is how the book title is written in Japanese. If you copy and paste these three characters into Google Image search, you’ll get some interesting results and a rough idea what this book is all about. In brief, it’s a book about “de-clutter”.
Danshari (this is how you pronounce the name of the book in Japanese). This book and the idea it promotes, has been a popular topic among many people I know for a while. I finished reading it recently. Very easy to read. A small book with short chapters. The ideas are clear and interesting. I don’t quite follow the logic of the chapters. But I like it in general and it makes some differences in our home. I think it will reduce the chance of “my wardrobe is overflowing, but I still can’t find the one I want to wear”. So what does it mean?
Dan = stop things flooding into your life/home – don’t take that free Barclay’s pen if you have a whole drawer of them already! Print less stuff out on paper. File less paper in ring binders!
Sha = throw unnecessary things away! – textbooks from secondary school? Old mobile phones and gadgets boxes? I found a 2013 calendar that still had a plastic cover on and a box of monthly colour supplements from my church from 2008 unread! I hope our vicar is not reading this.
Ri = separate from “the more the happier” attitude of life. Do not buy the bigger and “better-value” bottle of mayonaise if it will go off before you can finish it. Do you know how much a metre square of housing cost in London/Beijing? Are you not angry that all your metre squares are covered in junk?!
The author, Yamashita Hideko, talks about “de-clutter” in a physical sense (de-clutter your rooms), as well as in a mental sense (de-clutter your mind). The mental part comes as a result. You don’t need to do much about it. But it does take some time and effort to de-clutter your room. It suggests you to start small, a drawer or a pen box. Every bit of achievement will keep you going (and made me happy!)
The aim of the book is to reduce the amount of stuff in your home, NOT how to store things or how to tidy the room. It argues if you only have things you need and use often, then there’ll only be a very small number of things you need to store. The method it suggests to decide what to throw away is to ask, “Will I use it now?” emphasising “I” and “now”. Rather than “will this thing be useful one day?” Notice the subject and the time frame of the sentence.
Making this kind of decision is a learning progress. Don’t start with your family photos or collection of vintage maps! I started with my medicine box and almost managed to empty it – thanks to the peculiar medical system in some places in China. Things with a “best before” date on are the easiest to clear out. So maybe start with your medicine box or fridge! Then I moved on to old magazines (recycled and gave to friends), piles of copies of sermon translations (donate to church), cards (recycled), clothes (gave to friends and charity shops) etc.
But I know there is a pricy T-shirt that my dad bought me – still need to work on that.
P.S there other books on similar ideas but with different approaches. I read another one called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. I prefer Danshari by comparison. Just my opinion though!