Sparking joy with Marie Kondo’s craze of “Tidying Up”
“What are you doing?” DC calls from the next room. I’ve been in my closet longer than it’s taken Michigan to count votes.
“Sparking joy,” I holler from behind a mound of castoffs the size of a Volkswagen.
“Need some help?” He thinks this sounds fun. “I have to change my life first.” DC’s gotten used to my idiosyncrasies, which include spurts of maniacal cleaning, organizing and redecorating, but this time is different. It merits an explanation.
I had just joined the half of the world population who has read Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” (Ten Speed Press). The quirky little manual started as a spark in Japan, spread as a small flame to the United States two years ago, and is now a world-
wide wildfire, selling more than six million copies in 40 languages.
Now people from Poland to Peru are “kondoing” their homes. Yes, her name has become a verb.
Kondo herself is as adorable as a pair of pearl earrings. (I emailed her for an interview and didn’t hear back, then discovered she lives in Tokyo, doesn’t speak English, and only gives interviews through an interpreter. She’s excused.)
At age 32, she has already made Time magazine’s list of 100 Most Influential People, all because she turned her neurotic childhood obsession with cleaning, sorting and tidying into a home-organizing business in Japan, then a method, and now a phenomenon.
Since I am at least in theory a downsizing expert, as I, too, have a book out on the subject, I figured I should find out what all the Kondo-magic fuss was about.
While my mantra on saving or tossing stuff boils down to need, use, love, hers is even simpler: Does it spark joy. I decided to apply her KonMari Method to my wardrobe, which is where she says to start, to see how the advice worked.
The technique involves holding hold every one of your belongings in your hands – that part is essential — and asking: Does it spark joy? If it does, store it with love and care. If it doesn’t, say a sincere and ceremonious goodbye, then jettison it.
The question forces brute honesty: Yes, I love the silk paisley dress that cost a mint, but it would really look better on someone tall, blonde and skinny. Sniff. And those jeans, well, maybe if I were a teenager.
Four bags of clothes later, I felt, if not better about myself (Lord, I have wasted a lot of money), at least honest with myself.
As we plunge headlong into the season where we buy and receive more stuff in three weeks than we do all the rest of the year combined, I thought this a good time for all of us to reassess our stuff and our relationship with it – starting with me.
Kondo’s book helped me hit my reset button, and gave me a fresh lens to look through. But before you get the book or give it as a Christmas gift, heed this warning: Some devotees, called Konverts, extend her method to all the junk in their lives and really clean house. They purge dead-end jobs and energysucking friends. Hence the “life-changing magic” part.
One woman got rid of her boyfriend. He wasn’t sparking joy.