The title and subtitle (How I Got Rid of Almost Everything, Remade My Life, and Regained My Soul) of this book caught my attention. When I saw that the author had a similar background, belief system, educational path, family (three daughters, I have four), love for reading, and even the same name for his dog (Piper) as I do, I decided I must read this book.
Entrepreneur , Christian educator, and blogger, Dave Bruno often railed against the crass materialism and over consumption common in America today. However, in spite of his railings, one day he realized that he was fully swept up in the materialistic ethos of the culture. Almost on a whim, he decided to pair down his personal belongs to 100 things, call it The 100 Thing Challenge, blog about it and write a book about the experience.
Three main insights from the book stuck out to me. First, as Dave began the big purge in preparation for the challenge, he was forced to get rid of things like an electric train set, rock-climbing gear, and other items related to hobbies or other activities that he rarely participated in. Instead of feeling bad for getting rid of the stuff, he experienced a type of freedom from having those things and those hobbies hanging over his head. As much as he would love to be a great rock climber, realistically it was never going to happen – thus, his gear taunted him. I have rock climbing gear… I’ve used it twice.
Second, not only is having 100 things doable, it’s really not all that hard or eccentric. During his experiment, twice Bruno was interviewed to see if his story would make a good television segment (once for Oprah, and another for some nightly news show)… In each case, halfway through the call, the interviewer realized that this wouldn’t make for a compelling story, because Dave’s life turned out to be pretty normal.
Third, clearing out the clutter and smashing the idol of stuff frees one up to a deeper, more meaningful life. As I prepare to move away from Okinawa after nearly ten years, I’ve realized that the vast majority of my “stuff” isn’t going to follow me to America and then on to the Czech Republic. Before reading this book I was already looking forward to the purge, now I’m even more motivated to do so.
This isn’t a great book. At times I got tired of the authors rabbit trails or tirades. Yet I think I would recommend it to anyone who occasionally feels like their stuff is owning them rather than them owning their stuff . This book and its message also comes at a timely moment for us as we approach the overindulgence in commercialism known as Black Friday and as we at The Harbor participate in the Advent Conspiracy.