Have you Konmari’d yet?
I have a confession – 2019 was not the year I first heard about Marie Kondo and her bestselling The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up.
In fact, as an insatiable bookworm whose eye is always on the bestselling shelves in the bookshops and the new books sections of magazines, I’d heard about her as early as 2014 when her book, now a global phenomenon, was published.
I wasn’t sold. “Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy. Thank them for their service – then let them go,” was the Marie Kondo principle.
Sure, I got that you should discard things that didn’t spark joy, but every house has its fair share of things that would never spark joy, and yet were never going to be discarded as trash because of their functionality. I remember reasoning, “A sponge will never spark joy, but how can you not have one?”
My answer came at the start of the year finally, when with the debut of her Netflix series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” the KonMari method and its creator Kondo were back in the spotlight and her book flying off the shelves. Perfect timing for those caught up in the spirit of the “New year, new me” resolutions and armed with hundreds of rubbish bags, desperate to declutter decades of hoarding.
A friend who’d just finished reading Kondo’s book and decluttering her house by getting rid of anything that failed to spark joy explained that practical items – regardless of whether they spark joy or not – had to be kept, as long as there was one of each item at any one time. “So by all means, hold on to the sponge,” she explained, “But have just the one and replace it with a new one when the time comes – instead hoarding sponges under the sink.”
Truly, if you look under my kitchen sink, you’re likely to find sponges of all different sizes and colours. But this is by all means not the worst crime against Kongo.
As I started the ritual of tidying up and sparking joy, I realised just how much of different types of clutter had accrued in nooks and crannies over the years. Mementos of old travels and theatre shows, ticket stubs, Christmas cards from former colleagues I’d probably last seen circa 2005 when I left that job and didn’t find anyone close enough to hang on to the friendship of. Amidst all this, there were also three bottle openers collected from hotel rooms around the world, numerous Noughties accessories that had long become outdated, free keyrings picked up at events, lanyards from events I attended as a guest or a team member.
I am not a hoarder. And this is the problem, very few of us are, and yet stuff keeps accumulating – and we’re too rushed, too distracted, too unaware or even too sentimental to finally come around to cleaning this “stuff”.
The biggest shock came in the bedroom followed by the kitchen. Once I had mustered the courage to tackle years and years worth of clothes, and taking the KonMari method of truly reflecting on them seriously, I ruthlessly went through a few rounds of culling. I had an alternative to KonMari – as well as actually wearing an item of clothing and asking myself it sparked joy, I also asked myself when I’d last worn it. If it sparked joy and it was one of my go to pieces, it was a keeper. If it was a “Meh… Not sure how I feel about this?” I would then ask when I last wore this piece – if I hadn’t touched it in over six months, off it went in the lose pile. Then there were those items which sparked joy but hadn’t been worn for years – or ever. Those that sparked joy but I had bought in the hopes that I would one day wear them, went into the sell pile. After a weekend of culling, I ended up with ten sacks of clothes for recycling or repurposing.
In the kitchen, I got rid of mismatched cutlery that had been kept for years just because, the mugs which had chips and didn’t really spark joy but we’d kept because they were practical, a bread bin which hadn’t been used in over five years and was only taking up space because we didn’t want to get rid of it only to find out two days later we wanted it back.
The funny thing is that the more we KonMari’d, the more we started questioning our earthly possessions and shopping style. The more I blitzed years of hoarding in the wardrobe, the ‘junk drawer’, the attic, the more I questioned why I had certain items. Moving beyond, I began questioning my shopping choices – did I really need those pair of trousers I wasn’t really too sure of but still wanted because they were on sale?
More recently I’ve noticed this attitude spread to more areas of my life – do I really want that magazine because there’s just that one article on the cover I am interested in? Do I really want the second scoop of ice cream when I’m sure one will be perfectly fine?
More importantly I am beginning to KonMari my time and relationships. I review those relationships that no longer spark joy or have never done. I review pastimes and truly weigh how much joy they spark. As a result in the first four months of the year, I can truly say I have only spent time with people whose presence in my life truly spark joy doing things that spark joy equally, and my life is truly better for it.
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