Most folks in the simplifying movement and who are into minimalism have probably heard of Marie Kondo and her new book, “The life-changing magic of tidying up.” If you’re new to the movement you will soon see or are seeing many bloggers talking about Kondo-ing their homes and you may wonder what that is if you haven’t read the book. Well, here it is in a nutshell: You take all your stuff in one particular category, say clothing, pull it all out and lay it on the floor. Pick up each individual item and if it “sparks joy” then you keep it. If it’s just meh, you get rid of it, one way or another. In the end, inevitably all of her clients have apparently thrown out bags and bags worth of stuff that wasn’t joyful and they live happily ever after, never becoming a clutter bug again.
I think that’s pretty impressive and quite the claim that not a single one of her clients have ever backslidden. Wow. That is some serious magic.
I bought the book after reading a review or two that looked interesting and after reading through it I did find inspiration to clear out more stuff. She is fairly entertaining to read and definitely opinionated. The subtitle of the book is “The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing,” but with a bit of thought (duh) I realized that this isn’t a uniquely Japanese way of doing things.
Marie got her start in Japan, sure, but her clients were Japanese, meaning they were Japanese people who were messy to begin with and had clutter. This means that tidiness isn’t some inborn Japanese trait, it just so happens that Marie is Japanese. So don’t think it’s some kind of cultural thing. It’s still just about messy people, albeit ones who can afford to have a personal decluttering coach and who live in small spaces, because Japan isn’t known for it’s sprawling apartments or homes.
I happen to have the luxury of space at the moment. This doesn’t negate the fact that I have an excess of things but I don’t have an absolute need to limit myself at the moment and I don’t want my home to end up stark. I do not have to go about getting down to the pure essentials of everything right now. I can live with some extras for now until or unless we move and have to get rid of more. Marie does not indicate any absolute numbers for things to keep unlike other methods that recommend certain numbers of clothing pieces for a “capsule wardrobe” say. There is some wiggle room for people who might have hobbies that “spark joy.” If your little collection of Ewoks brings you joy, go for it and keep them!
My criticisms and reasons for not falling for this wholeheartedly are these:
1. I do not live in a tiny apartment in a city. I have (big)closets to hang things in. I do not like my clothes folded in drawers no matter how “tidy.”
2. I can’t force my whole family to do this. Especially not my husband. I have small children. Sticks and rocks bring them joy. So do Legos. And kittens. And that thing they just saw. How do you qualify this with kids? In fact, she doesn’t really give any great examples of doing this with kids.
3. I got tired just reading the book. It sounds like a whirlwind. I am not a whirlwind. I’m maybe more like a tailspin…
4. The way she talks about and to “things” makes it seem animistic. Like the stuff has a soul and wants to be appreciated. I’m not talking to my shirt. TYVM. The dog, maybe.
5. There is a bunch of Zen stuff at the end and I’m not going there. There is talk of Feng Shui. I’m not even sure I pronounce that correctly. The only spiritual aspect that I attribute to my desire to decrease the amount of stuff I need to own and deal with is that there are so many other people on this planet who don’t have much at all and barely survive that I feel like a glutton when I have so much and don’t appreciate it. Plus I don’t want my things to become idols. Back to that thing about talking to your stuff…
6. There is no one right way to do this. Yes, there are good ideas in here. Great ones too. But it won’t work for everyone. Your best bet for true success with this is if you are single and have time on your hands without interruption. In my house if you start a project you don’t finish yet intend to come back to, you are likely to come back to find it strewn across the house or colored on or chewed on by a cute little pug. That’s my real life.
What am I doing then? I continue to go through things as I come across them. I throw out whatever the dog chews on (I really dig having a puppy-really really! It’s a great way to get rid of little plastic things…). I drink out of the same mug every day. I just got rid of about 30 drinking glasses because there are only 4 of us and I still have about 30 left. Seriously. I go through my closet periodically like I did tonight and pull out what I actually wear and feel comfortable in. It doesn’t matter if the sweater “sparks joy” if I don’t actually wear it. Black tank tops don’t give me joy but I find them reliable. I think that’s a better quality in a long term relationship.
Have you read the book? What did you think? What quality do you look for in things to keep? What’s your “method?”
Have a groovy Tuesday! Peace out.