My voice echoes in the two-bedroom house I share with my family. My son and my stepson are playing games in a computer shop while my husband and I are busy sorting through the stuff that we have accumulated over the years. Trash bags are piled on the sidewalk, waiting to be picked up by garbage collectors. Our dogs stare at us, wondering if they’ll be thrown out next.
It’s been three weeks since I’ve read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and I have no plans of stopping my purge yet.
Kondo’s been popular since 2015 after she broke through the scene with her eclectic way of blending efficiency with shades of Shintoism. I have been a fan of the Japanese culture ever since I went to Tokyo for a two-week study program on Industrial Relations (incidentally, this was also in 2015). I loved how the Japanese people seemed always on the go but never forgot about their manners – even the simple act of wrapping an item bought at a convenience store was done with utmost respect. I was amazed at how much they got done in so short a time without compromising quality. And I was really fascinated at how content they were with their compact houses.
Flash forward to April of 2017. I was on the verge of a meltdown because I could not seem to keep anything in order. I didn’t know what was wrong. I wasn’t having an episode yet I felt empty working at the office and going home didn’t feel like, well, going home. Both my house and my mind felt cluttered. I’ve read up on articles about Marie Kondo before and her tips made sense to me, but it wasn’t until I read the book that I realized that this lady knows her sh*t.
Devouring the pages in a few hours, I immediately declared Kondo’s book as life-changing. I mean it. It’s right up there with The Stranger and The Bhagavad Gita. Some people find her pieces of advice kooky and obsessive-compulsive, and I can’t blame them. She’s ruthless about defining what stays and recommends saying “thank you” to what goes but this is where the author’s charm lies. So many of us hold on to things because of the memories they represent but that’s precisely the reason they’re called memories, they belong the past. Expressing gratitude shows that you honor the part they played in your personal evolution and that you love them enough to be of use to others. .
The funny thing is after I KonMari’d my stuff, my husband followed suit. This is a guy who’d hold on to receipts and would wear ratty shirts that look like they’d do a better job of wiping up dog pee so yes, seeing him put his crap away was nothing short of magic. Marie Kondo got my hoarder-of-a-husband part ways with his college f*ckboy wardrobe. I am ready to erect a monument for her.
After we were done schlepping our stuff to junk shops, my mind was clearer. Answers to questions I’ve been ruminating on for days just came out of the woodwork. Decluttering has always had a calming effect on me but this time, it was more powerful. Decision-making got easier. It dawned on me that aside from my home, there were other areas of my life that needed decluttering: health, career, personal relationships. Perhaps they can all benefit from getting the Kondo treatment.
The best thing about getting rid of things that no longer “spark joy” is that it gives you space for things that actually do. So the idea of moving residences, quitting work, or cutting off people no longer fills me with dread but with a sense of excitement and gratitude.
“To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose. And if you no longer need them, then that is neither wasteful nor shameful.” – Marie Kondo