Thursday, February 11, 2016

Konmari & Me: A Book and Life Review

Yesterday I sent my friend a picture of the inside of my bathroom cabinet. Note the items on the second shelf, ascending joyfully from left to right. I’m eagerly awaiting a picture of my friend’s underwear drawer.

Why? A best-selling little pastel green book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It seems like all the ladies (Sorry for the profiling, guys. I’ll edit this once I meet a guy fan.) in my neighborhood/ Facebook feed are tidying.

This book enters a crowded field of tough-love decluttering books (also this parody), devoted to saving pathetic acquisitive pack-ratters like me from the soul-deadening, life-shortening, dagnabbed frustrating heaps of our own stuff. Don’t love it/use it/have a place for it! Toss that ol’ thang! Clutter is the enemy!

KonMari (a Japanesey cutening of the author’s name, Marie Kondo) is kind of the Hello Kitty of decluttering drill sergeants. She encourages a “tidying marathon” leading to respectable Dumpster-loads of discarded stuff.

But instead of reviling clutter, we are to hold each possession in our hands, and to keep only those that “spark joy.” And after determining which things spark joy, we are to lavish them with care and attention.

Konmari comes off as just a little nuts (charming, but nuts). She passionately describes the feelings of inanimate objects, encouraging tidyers to respectfully thank each object before chucking it. And some of her feng-shui-flavored organizing mandates work best if you happen to live in a Japanese home, with its distinctive deep closets designed to hold folding futons during the day.

Unlike other declutterers, Konmari acknowledges that each possession at one time sparked an emotion that caused us to bring it into the house. And that a precious few material objects enhance our lives and bring us joy. That it feels good to live in an orderly place surrounded by our most beloved objects.

I think that focus on gratitude and acknowledgement of the pleasure-bringing qualities of our earthly possessions is what’s rocketed her to 60 some-odd weeks on the bestseller list. Questions? You can find me lavishing appreciation on my great-grandmother’s bread knife (hand-carved handle is wobbly, but the blade still cuts like a boss.) Or polishing my humble but trusty stapler.

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Lee Ann Setzer's blog about books, writing, and life in general.