The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
I know a secret. If you have too much stuff and it’s bugging you then get rid of it. All of it. Well, nearly all of it. Save a few things but only the things you absolutely love, the things that spark joy within your being (you’ll know it when you feel it, says the author) and don’t bring more things into the house unless you love and/or need them. Don’t think you can do that? Well, never mind then.
This author wants you to be absolutely ruthless with your possessions and do it in one fell swoop. Don’t dilly-dally and put certain unpleasant things off. Absolutely do not waste money buying “storage solutions”. Just get rid of your stuff and you won’t have to store it or dust it or leave it there to feel bad for itself. Now, none of this is a bad thing (though the last might be a wee bit kooky) and honestly I’m all for it. I had way too much crap lying about and it was driving me crazy. Broken crap, ugly crap, gifted crap, crap that had been there so long it was invisible to me. But this book has a problem and it is a BIG one that I’m betting many of you may take issue with as well.
Step #2, you see, is books. BOOKS! Step freaking two is BOOKS. As you can probably easily imagine, I am stuck here on step #2 because, well, it’s a call to action to rid myself of my precious books! I’ve been collecting books since I was twelve years old. I have a lot of books but I’m afraid I may love them all.
#1 was clothes, shoes, accessories and that was a breeze. Who needs clothes taking up space that could hold a few books? This was easy, thought I. My closet was done in an hour or so. Everything culled, sorted and color coded and folded all nice and tidy-like. I could blow through this, thought I. A zen and clutter-free life was within my grasp. I had this. Then step #2 happened and I was instructed to rid myself of all of the books I have loved before (but may not love again) and all of the books I have not read yet. Uh oh. I was told to remove my TBR pile(s) from my life. Forever. And almost always. She’ll allow you to re-buy digitally if you are pining away and dying of sadness for it. I was instructed to touch each one and see if it sparked that apparently not-so-elusive feeling of joy within me. Trouble is they all kind of did. I suppose I am broken. I tried folks, I truly did. I took pictures and even posted them online in an attempt to humiliate myself into following through. I even went so far as removing a gigantor bookshelf from my room that was stocked three piles deep, floor-to-ceiling, as well as an armoire I no longer needed. I have to admit my room looks and feels calm and free and spacious. The bookshelf now neatly resides in my basement. I pulled off all of the books and starting sorting them but it made me incredibly sad to think about tossing them out of my house where they might potentially end up in a trash/recycle bin (according to the author everything has feelings so how could I allow this? Better they be a little lonesome on my shelf than DEAD, right?!). Instead of tossing them into bags, I started arranging them by color (which she wants you to do with clothes) and then I put all but a dozen or so back up on the shelves. They look happy and pretty and they brighten the back wall of the basement. I have decided that I am keeping them. They are my one and only vice and I work hard. They are not clutter.
I think I shall pretend that step 2 was nothing but a fever dream.
After I was recovered from the horror that was step #2, I got back to business. So next comes all of the other stuff which I can easily part ways with; the paper, the stuff no one ever eats, the gadgets (my days of bread baking are over), the broken things that we’ve been thinking we’ll fix someday, the mementos, pictures and all the other useless crapola that has been residing in the basement since we moved in a million years ago. I’ve removed countless bags of trash and several car loads of “stuff” and hauled them to Goodwill and I miss none of it. It is so much easier to clean my house now. I haven’t followed this plan as written, it’s difficult when you live with several other people, so we still have some bins and crud to get to but now I'm inspired to keep at it.
This book will give you some unique tools and I do recommend it if you skip step two or perhaps save it for last, if you’re anything like me. She has a nifty way of folding clothes that helped me fit everything into a few drawers and will keep me in check if I decide I need more yoga pants. You really do see just how much of each clothing category you own when you pile them all on the bed/floor and separate them into their own little categories. She doesn’t declutter by room but by category. This stops you from getting stuck (on pictures or mementos which are left for the end) and forces you to deal with an entire category and actually finish the job so you never have to do it again. She also tells you to start with a clear vision of your end result. That bit of advice has helped me tremendously.
The author clearly has an obsession with tidying. She does not deny this. Apparently, she’s been this way since she was a wee, strange child and goes into great detail at the beginning of book about her childhood hobby of “tidying”. This makes the start a bit of a slog. I found some of her beliefs a little quirky and I will not be emptying my bag out each night so my stuff can “breathe” only to put everything back in come morning (what the?!) but if you can overlook some of the odd things she says, you’ll more than likely find something here to help you out.
What do you think of Step #2?!
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