Today’s post is by Steve Grooms
The title of this article is a joke. Marie Kondo is tiny, actually. Her height, according to the national press, is five inches short of five feet. And yet she is unquestionably a big deal in the culture. Kondo has become famous and influential by teaching folks how to reduce clutter in their homes. She wrote four books that have been translated into eight languages. She has produced a series of videos on the art of tidying up one’s home. A series of her videos has been airing on Netflix under the title of “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” A newspaper article yesterday said Twin Cities resale shops are stuffed with bargains now because Kondo has encouraged so many people to offload unwanted stuff.
The title she prefers is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Note how that differs from the simple idea that most people have way too much stuff. Kondo wants to change lives, not just tidy up messes, and she hopes to use “magic” to accomplish that. Working from her background in Japan’s Shinto religion, Kondo finds magic in inanimate objects. Before she helps a client declutter a home Kondo kneels reverently in an effort to introduce herself to the home. She asks clients to touch each object they own and keep it only if it “sparks joy” in their lives.
Kondo has a fairly rigid process for tidying up a home. It starts with clients making a pile of every single article of clothing they own. The piles are usually massive. Then she asks clients to attack that pile, chucking out every item that fails to spark joy. The process moves along deliberately, taking several weeks to play out, concluding with an emotionally wrenching effort to jettison sentimental objects.
A few observers have criticized Kondo. Oddly enough, a woman who has written four books doesn’t seem to revere them. She has said nobody needs to keep more than 30 books. Kondo thinks a book one hasn’t read in three years is ripe for dumping, and she sees no value in keeping a book one has already read. My daughter, the person who urged me to get to know Kondo, vehemently disagrees on the topic of books!
Kondo could come off as a nag were it not for her sweet personality and spiritualism. Her approach to life and the stuff people accumulate keep attracting converts. I believe most people in our culture are troubled about how much stuff we own. Many of us would like ourselves better if we could dump a lot of that stuff and live in an uncluttered environment.
Do you currently suffer from having too much stuff? What sparks joy in your life?