The Life-Changing Magic of Examining Every Piece of Crap You Own
Keeping what is important in the foreground.
So I have to move and I’m looking for a place to live with a dog in an expensive, tight housing market. That is as much fun as it sounds.
And because that isn’t stressful enough, I got a copy of that book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” by a kind-of-crazy-kind-of-wise Japanese woman, Marie Kondo.
Her basic premise is that you need to be surrounded only by things that bring you joy and that everything else needs to go away. To decide what brings you joy, you handle every article you own, in categories (all your clothing, one article at a time, all of your books, one book at a time…) and if you do not feel joy, out it goes. OUT. No exceptions.
In looking at every single thing I own, I have had to face every mis-spent dollar, every ill-conceived hobby, every tacky souvenir that seemed like a good idea at the time. Gulp.
I have handled the self-improvement books that did not help to improve me. The weight loss guides that were read and forgotten within two weeks. The mystery electrical cords, the slightly-functioning electronics, the things I meant to repair or mend or return but never got around to.
Trash day was Friday and the bin is full today, Monday, a fact that is sure not to delight the lady in the front house. I have taken two trips to the thrift store with sacks of donations and another is ready to load in the car.
And after all I have done – about half of what needs to be done, by the way, I find few possessions that bring me joy. My cereal bowl, a few Stangl dishes, the curtains made of fabric I chose, the bookcase my dad made, my laptop.
And my clothing. Eeeh. No joy there. I had to save SOME clothes – otherwise, what would I wear? But in general, what the heck was I thinking?
I have been entirely too practical, and yet not practical enough. I didn’t realize joy was a factor in practicality. I have tried to get along with a simple, thrifty existence.
The idea that all my possessions should bring me joy is stressing me out. Do they have to? Can’t I just have possessions to use and let experiences and ideas bring me joy? The pretty napkin holder I got in Costa Rica never brought me joy, but the memory of ziplining on the world’s dumbest zipline course makes me grin every time.
I do love some of my hand-painted plates, but I’d trade every single one of them for a slice of peach pie at Vic’s Cafe with any one of you.
I like Marie Kondo’s ideas of not surrounding yourself with items you don’t want or use. I just think I have a different relationship with stuff than she does. I’ll bet her home is serene and lovely and organized. Mine will probably always be messy and full of half-done projects. Her way is good for her, and mine is mine, and both are okay.