Obsolete Things

The objects that add value today may not add value tomorrow

Words by The Minimalists

There are many things that once brought joy to our lives but no longer serve a purpose in today’s world.

Fax machines.
Pleated khakis.
Mail-order catalogs.
Palm Pilots.
The Furby.

But most of us clung to these artifacts well into their obsolescence, often out of a pious sense of nostalgia. The hallmarks of the past have a strange way of leaving claw marks on the present.

We hold deathgrips on our VHS collections, our unused flip phones, our oversized Bugle Boy jeans—not repairing or recycling these items, but storing them with the rest of our untouched hoard. As our collections grow, our basements, closets, and attics become purgatories of stuff, our lives overflowing with unemployed miscellanea.

Your life is likely still filled with things that’ve fallen into disuse, and this lack of use is the final sign that you should let go.

You see, as our needs, desires, and technologies change, so does the world around us. The objects that add value today may not add value tomorrow, which means we must be willing to let go of everything, even the tools that serve a purpose today. For if we let go, we can find temporary new homes for our neglected belongings and allow them to serve a purpose in someone else’s life, if only for a while, instead of collecting dust in our homegrown mausoleums.

On a long enough timeline, everything becomes obsolete. A hundred years from now the world will be filled with new humans, and they’ll’ve abandoned their USB cables, iPhones, and flatscreen televisions, letting go of the past to make room for the future.

This means we must be responsible about the new bits and pieces we bring into our lives today, and we must be equally sensible when those things become obsolete. A willingness to let go is life’s most mature virtue.

The Minimalists

The Minimalists are American authors, podcasters, filmmakers, and public speakers Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. The duo began pursuing the minimalist lifestyle in 2010. After experiencing significant improvements in their quality of life as a result of adopting and practicing the tenets of minimalism, the pair launched a website in December 2010 to share their experiences. Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus help over 20 million people live meaningful lives with less through their writing, podcast, and documentaries.


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Inside Minimalism is our series of exclusive essays on simple living. Each essay is written by our team of writers who are passionate about helping you craft a simpler life. Supported by their own personal experiences, we want to inspire and encourage you to clear the path of life’s stuff, so you can get to where you really want to be.

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