Season of seeking joy
For someone born in January, surprisingly it is my least favourite month of the year. Firstly, between early pay day pre-Christmas to the end of January, it is the longest month of the year for most of us – especially if you’ve overindulged and splashed the cash over the festive period. Now you’re barely managing your data, fuel and food till pay day which can’t come sooner.
Heck, while all around you are either droning on about how well they are sticking to Dry January or 6am yoga class, by week three, you’re barely managing sticking with your New Year’s resolutions. To make matters worse, the nights are longer, the days shorter, and at the end of the long tunnel of deprivation there’s no tinsel and sparkle. The earliest milestone date to look forward to on the calendar is none other than the oft dreaded Valentine’s, the over-commercialised, syrupy sweet day of love, laden with expectations, often morphing into disillusionment before the clock strikes midnight.
Hence this January, I’ve been out of sorts. Most nights spent staying up till 2am reading instead of catching a good night’s sleep and waking up early in the mornings which I found broken at the feet of the first Netflix binge-watch of the year on the morning of January 6. (I blame You. Not you, Reader, but You, the Netflix original psychological thriller based on the eponymous 2014 novel by Caroline Kepnes. And two weeks later, I blame Grace and Frankie.) Most evenings crashing on the sofa in front of the TV as a result of the self-imposed sleep deprivation of the night before, as opposed to spending time on personal projects as I had resolved to.
As we hurtle towards the end of the month and I despair more at the accomplishments earmarked for January that I haven’t even come close to achieving, all is not lost. As I have finally allowed Marie Kondo into my life… For those of you who know her and her ground-breaking her #1 New York Times best-selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” there is no need for introduction. For those who don’t, she is the woman who
took tidying to a whole new level, teaching that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again; now also the star of Netflix’s hit show, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.
As for me, I first saw the book popping up in the cultural supplements and bookshops a couple of years ago. Dismissing the idea of “sparking joy” as utter madness, I didn’t give it much thought. As far as I was concerned, a sponge or a bucket didn’t spark any joy at all but you had to have one, so what was the point of asking if something sparked joy. Equally as implausible was the fact that Netflix had now turned the KonMari method into a 12-series show!
Then just like that, following a conversation with a friend on what the KonMari concept of joy meant, I was a convert. Had I given Marie a chance that first time I had laid eyes on her book in 2016, my house could have looked a whole lot more different now but alas to everything there is a season.
The second half of January has turned into the season of decluttering and seeking joy in the deep recesses of wardrobes, at the bottom of laundry baskets, underneath a tower of handbags suffocating in the airing cupboard, at the back of the ‘where all junk goes’ drawer in the kitchen. Once converted, I began looking at clothes, shoes, kitchen utensils, pots and pans the same way and asking the right questions, “When was the last time I used this?” “Do I like it?” “Does it spark joy?” If the answer to the first question is not quite clear and the answer to the latter two is no, off it goes into the trash.
So far ten sizeable bags are packed and ready to be thrown away while a few are kept aside for friends and relatives but there is still a long road ahead and many days spent in the spare room, in front of the mirror, at the store room, repeatedly asking, “Does it spark joy?”
Marie Kondo advises using the KonMari method to all aspects of life. Anything that no longer sparks joy in your life; thank them for serving you thus far and let them go. So who knows as much as I feel I have not lived up to my high aspirations or how much dull January has failed to light a spark in me, maybe this was always meant to be the season to let go and spark joy to light the way for a brighter season? Maybe it’s only when you clear the path, the path becomes clear.
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