I thought I knew all the tricks for decluttering a household, but that was before a friend told me about Marie Kondo’s best-selling book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”
Kondo, a respected authority on the art of Japanese decluttering and organization, is a new breed of expert. You wouldn’t find her on one of those hoarding shows where a bunch of guys in matching T-shirts show up at dawn and throw all your crap into a dumpster while a “hoarding addiction specialist” pats your hand and looks soulful.
What Kondo recommends isn’t the old “keep,” “donate,” “throw away” metric.
Instead, she suggests that you should look at all your possessions and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?”
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If you can no longer hold up Molly Hatchet’s “Flirtin’ With Disaster” and feel genuine joy when you look at it, it’s time to let it go. You, not me. I ain’t never giving up that album.
Clothing is trickier because we have to deal with that every day. When whittling a closet, Kondo dismisses the old “Glamour” magazine style advice that if you haven’t worn something in a year or so, you should give it away.
Kondo says it’s important to touch each piece of clothing and see how your body reacts to it. The goal is to make sure that you are only keeping and wearing “happy clothes.” I tried this and it was fairly effective. I caressed a black jumpsuit and its response was: “I make your butt look about six ax handles across.” It’s a very rude jumpsuit now that I think about it.
Kondo is earnest but I’m not sure how well her Japanese minimalist strategies translate here in mass-consumptionville America. At this time of year, most of us are mindlessly anticipating finding homes for even more stuff that will come in the form of gifts.
Kondo’s advice on gifts is simple: Once it has been given, it has fulfilled its destiny. There should be no guilt attached to getting rid of that antler lamp that Uncle Beebop gave you just because he gave it to you. Besides, well, antler lamp.
Kondo calls this process “releasing” which is a nice word, for sure. It sounds so much better when I tell Duh Hubby that I’m headed to the county landfill to “release” his astonishingly large collection of broken weed-eaters and assorted parts and spools of cutting line. Why it sounds almost noble when you put it that way.
Kondo advises us to thank items for a job well done before you release them. I don’t think I can do this because it sounds inherently crazy but 2 million readers can’t be wrong. Soooo, blender, remember the time your lid popped off and you sprayed mango pulp all over my cabinets? Wow! That took, like, seven hours to clean up but what can I say but Namaste…”
Gotta go. There’s a “U.S. First Ladies” demitasse spoon collection that I have to have a little conversation with.