I have a motto regarding stuff: if I haven’t used it in the last three hours, I probably don’t need it. That’s a bit hyperbolic but not far from the truth. I’m a minimalist, and thank goodness I’m married to a fellow minimalist, or I’d probably be divorced. We both feel claustrophobic when we’re surrounded by “stuff.” I blame George Carlin as the first comedian to shame us toward minimalism, and if you haven’t seen his monologue on “Stuff,” either because you missed it or you’re too young to know who he is, well…you should see it. Go to YouTube. Now. I’ll wait.
So when I stumbled upon The Japanese Art of Decluttering, by Marie Kondo, I figured she and I would get along great. She has developed the KonMari method, which includes steps and strategies for organization and decluttering, the nice adult way of saying, “removal of crap.” She believes a relationship should exist between owner and each object he/she possesses. Whatever we own should “spark joy.” Say that over and over. It just sounds nice, doesn’t it? Not at all like some words, such as moist. What an icky word.
But I digress.
We have begun The Purge, which, in addition to being a great disaster movie title, is our exploration of all nooks and crannies, drawers we rarely bothered to open, and shelves we’ve forgotten exist. To implement the KonMari method, we hold up an object, like the long shoehorn I used after my back surgeries, and ask, “Does this spark joy?” In this case, since said shoehorn was a reminder of the worst medical moments of my life, the answer was unequivocally, no. I promptly grabbed it from Amy and broke it in two. That felt good. That sparked joy.
I asked myself the question, “How much do I own that I rarely, if ever, interact with each week? Each month? Each year?”
In some cases, it was hard to part with certain things. At some point these objects had indeed sparked joy, however, they no longer did because we’d moved on to other cooler, newer toys. Such was the case with some of our school antiques. We’d acquired a few dozen school antiques over the years and displayed them on various shelves in our house. While some still sparked joy because they were gifts or their existence surfaced great memories, others had become just another object to dust. After some gut-wrenching soul searching, several were sold at the GARAGE SALE. Definitely a blog for another time. I’m still recovering.
The KonMari method also maintains we really don’t know what we have until we bring all of the same objects together. Kondo maintains that we shouldn’t declutter by room, but rather, by category. For example, I had no idea that I really had six pairs of brown socks until I searched through the three different places where my socks live. That might be confusing to you. Just let it go. Once I saw all six pairs lying on the bed, I was able to keep one pair and donate the rest to the giveaway pile.
One other great point Kondo discusses is the relationship we have with our things. She encourages decluttering by category because it requires actual interaction with each thing that exists in our lives. Three of those pairs of brown socks had been buried in a spare drawer, underneath more interesting and colorful socks. By the time I’d finished with the socks, I asked myself the question, “How much do I own that I rarely, if ever, interact with each week? Each month? Each year?” For me, the minimalist, the answer was still a lot. I couldn’t imagine what the answer would be for someone who has a garage.
The KonMari method is not for everyone. There’s a spiritual aspect to it that some will not appreciate. Also, it can be brutal on the psyche. When I tried to explain it to my brother, the King of Junking and a borderline hoarder, he just covered his ears and said, “My things are my friends!” Nothing comes between David and good stuff. However, my friend Candace went online and watched the Kondo videos and “KonMaried” her house and her daughter’s house. She loved the Kon Mari Method. However, I had to intervene when she tried to properly fold the cat and put him away.
I’d love to know what you think of the KonMari method. I learned yesterday that you can buy the book at the Container Store. They have created a shrine to Kondo. Just follow the smell of incense.
I’m off to declutter the shed. I think I’m gonna freak out when I discover how many tubes of caulk I really own!