Marie Kondo’s recently eulogized Netflix Series ‘Tidy Up’ has indeed taken the world by storm. I stumbled upon the book first, not very long ago, and I must say I had mixed emotions. Her KonMari method of decluttering one’s environment to make way for a stress-free life resonated with me to some degree. There were several moments through the course of the book when I was in disagreement with her ideologies. By nature, I am a very organized person, often trying to clean up after me. The KonMari method did allude to the fact that a good cleansing therapy would put to rest, existing clutter in our surroundings and mind – but, does it really?
She touched upon several zones of decluttering that contribute to leading such a life, some of which included tidying up clothes, books, sentimental and miscellaneous items, in that order. The pivotal point of the book is that you throw away anything that does not spark joy in your life. In other words, when you physically hold on to any object under consideration for said joy, you ask your inner self if it brings you a sense of happiness or if it exists in your life for reasons unbeknownst. The hardest part for me, was the chapter about decluttering my books. If you know me, you know I am a book hoarder and you can imagine how hard it would have been to convince myself to “declutter” my bookshelves.
I challenged myself one fine Saturday morning to implement Marie Kondo’s extolled methodology to tidy up my books. The exorcism of clutter seemed to intrigue me. I pulled out my books that were amassed over a decade. There were several books that instantly went into the ‘Keep’ pile. These books were the ones I enjoyed cover-to-cover, books that stirred emotions and ones that I was willing to pass onto generations to come. But, I realized I could not put away my childhood storybooks, books that I had won in competitions or books left behind by family. There were some with inscriptions from my late mother, a ‘Happy Birthday Darling’ from my husband and some with adorable drawings from my father. This set me back on my heels. The method was supposed to declutter my mind, not cloud it. I could not part with a majority of them, which was when I realized that even though it is encouraged to have a minimalist lifestyle and clutter-free surrounding, the memories and sentiments that are stitched to our present life dominate the method more than what the hypothesis asserts. In his book ,”Goodbye things”, Fumio Saki quotes, “Why do we own so many things when we don’t need them? What is their purpose? I think the answer is quite clear: We’re desperate to convey our own worth, our own value to others. We use objects to tell people just how valuable we are.”
I beg to differ. I believe the objects hold value for the emotions we associate it with. Sentimental waves and nostalgia keep us grounded and that in itself is a spiritual and mental cleanse. Did I declutter my books? – I did. But did the ‘spark joy’ theory pan out? – Ironically, it made me choose memories over must-haves.