Konmari, Tidying, and Magic (A Review and a Promise to Myself)

We have quite a bit of stuff (I will refrain from calling it junk, but honestly, a lot of it is). It’s stuffed in cupboards and closets. It’s piled on desks and tables. Right now, quite a lot of it is on the floor, too. I am overwhelmed by things!

This inundation of objects has simply become too much, so when I was contemplating what books I wanted to purchase with a gift card I received from a very generous family member, Marie Kondo’s neat little tome The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up instantly came to mind. This book, or at least the concepts behind it, have seemed to have swept much of the world, and I was curious to see what all the fuss was about and if any of the concepts presented would speak to me.

The premise is essentially this: category by category, you look at every object you own and decide if it “sparks joy”. If it doesn’t bring you joy, you send it off. On it’s face, the concept seems a bit ridiculous and time consuming. I have to touch every single thing I own and decide if it brings me joy? How are my eight year old mesh hospital panties going to spark joy? (Actually, maybe it’s time to get rid of those…) But you get the point.

However, as I continued to read, I realized that this makes sense, if you have the right goal in mind. If you goal is to simply declutter, you’re certainly likely to get rid of some stuff, but in the end, you’re still going to be left with quite a but of clutter. If your goal, however, is to totally transform the energy of your home and how you inhabit it, then yes, you should hold each and every item that belongs to you and decide if it makes you happy, because, when you’re finished, you will be inhabiting a space surrounded by only what pleases you. How can that not change the way you live for the better?

I will say that if you are not inclined toward whimsy, and thankfully I am, there are parts of this book that may be a struggle for you. Ms. Kondo spends a lot of time discussing the emotions and well-being of your possessions and home, often completely anthropomorphizing them. As you go deeper into the book, you realize that much of this seems to have to do with her personal spiritual beliefs and she’s essentially communicating to treat your belongings well and they’ll last longer and look nicer. And, in the end, I rather liked thinking about my things as inspirited beings (I always enjoyed the Brave Little Toaster and Toy Story movies) and my home as place that wants to actively work with me rather than just passively contain me.

In addition to explaining this unique tidying technique and troubleshooting potential issues that may arise as one goes through the process (the explanations are very thorough), Ms. Kondo also goes into detail about her personal pitfalls and her long history of passionate tidying. These side stories add a bit of quirkiness to the book, that I enjoyed, but also made me wonder about the author. Her love of tidying and organizing is so deep and long lived that I vacillated between admiration and worry for her well-being! It could be distracting at times, but not so distracting that I couldn’t extract the information being conveyed.

All of that said, I just finished this book this morning, and while I’ve been thinking deeply about all of this, considering what I have that “sparks joy” for me and what doesn’t and trying to figure out what that even feels like, I haven’t yet really started tidying (that seems like a very small word for what I have ahead of me). My goal is to begin this weekend, as both littles will be out and about with other family members and my plan is to report back here as I go along so we can see just what kind of progress is made and if I’m still feeling as hopeful about this process as I am now.

Here goes nothing!


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