Unless you are buried under a pile of your own possessions, you have no doubt heard about the latest person out there telling us how to live our lives, you’ve probably already gotten tired of hearing how wonderful it is to tidy and purge from the beautiful and didactic Marie Kondo.
I am genuinely happy that she is bringing her special brand of joy to so many of my friends and colleagues. She’s perfectly poised in this era of minimalism, simple living, and all that kind of trendiness. And I understand very much how important it is to feel in control of at least something in our lives these days, when we sure don’t feel like we can do much about world events, jobs, and our families/friends. And there’s nothing wrong with organizing your stuff so you can find it (right, yarn closet?).
But, as I see everyone blissfully getting rid of things that don’t bring them joy, it occurs to me that there is most assuredly a range of people’s attachment to “things” in their lives.
I have stuff. Yes, I do. I am on the spectrum at the end where people find comfort in the memories that come up when they look at things around them or draw inspiration from beautiful things they’ve gathered. Sure, I could pare some things down, but I am a former academic. I’m not going to own just 30 books. Geez. And by gosh, I love Supergirl and if I want to look at her, that’s my issue.
I think what gets to me with all these fads and trends and gurus of the day is that they really try to make people feel guilty for being different from them. Why? Some folks like three curated objects on each surface of their home. Some people want to look at 24 Starbucks mugs that remind them of friends and adventures. Like anything else, becoming attached to or detached from stuff really only gets to be a problem at the extremes.
When you can’t walk in your home or yard, you may have some mental health issues to deal with. And if you just have a chair and a bed (yes, I knew someone like that), at the least hospitality is difficult.
So, I say unto you, my friends: if your stuff makes you happy and you can move from room to room, enjoy your stuff. Get rid of things that make you feel icky or have bad memories attached to them. Just follow your own instincts, the norms of your culture, and what’s right for your family. Don’t blindly follow some overly perfect guru from another culture (by the way, in the Shinto religion of Japan, inamimate objects have souls and everyone has inherent goodness, perhaps even collectors like me).
Share your thoughts. I like hearing what YOU think about tidying up and magic, and the opposite.
I was not correct to blame Kondo for some people who are perhaps over zealous in interpreting her ideas. Please read the comments for some reasons why I’m saying this.
Also a friend didn’t comment here, but on her Facebook wall, and she was right that Kondo never said 30 books. I succumbed to Fake News.
One of her friends kindly posted this quote, which I do indeed agree with:
“As you reduce your belongings through the process of tidying, you will come to a point where you suddenly know how much is just right for you. You will feel it as clearly as if something has clicked inside your head and said, “Ah! This is just the amount I need to live comfortably. This is all I need to be happy. I don’t need anything more. … The click point differs from one person to another. For a shoe lover, it might be one hundred pairs of shoes, while a book lover might not need anything but books. … As you put your house in order and decrease your possessions, you’ll see what your true values are, what is really important to you in your life. But don’t focus on reducing, or on efficient storage methods for that matter. Focus instead on choosing the things that inspire joy and on enjoying life according to your own standards.” -Marie Kondo
I still get weary of extra tidy people acting like they’re better than the rest of us, since we each get to do what we prefer. But Marie is OK. Like Emily Latella, I must say, “Never mind!”
9 thoughts on “Stuff. Let’s Have Some.”
I read your blog with interest not least because I have just published one on decluttering your physical space to make room for other, more important ‘stuff’, in your headspace. I find the two are interlinked, but it looks as though you keep a lovely tidy house, so it isn’t something you would need to do 🙂 My house was in total disarray which left me feeling overwhelmed whenever I was just… in my home space. Interesting that your post has sparked some gentle controversy 🙂
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One of the things I remind myself to do every so often is simply to spend some time walking around in each room and noticing and appreciating the objects — they hold memories of people and places and good times. It is all too easy to just cease to even notice them. Another thing we do, since we have a lot of things that hang on the wall (art prints, photos, posters, African masks) is to periodically move them to new locations. You notice them more when they are in unexpected places. As we prepare to move houses (in two years’ time) we are going through and paring down the things that mean enough to us to keep, and those that can go. Among the things that can go — all the music CDs from the 1990s still in their cellophane wrappers, copies of scholarly articles that I will never read/use/refer to again. Clothes that went out of style in the late 1980s (and don’t fit anymore and haven’t for a decade), pens that don’t work, all that sort of junk.
Those are great suggestions, KD. I like the idea of moving things around. And yes, that kind of decluttering is needed and great. It felt really good to get rid of a bunch of academic papers from the 1980s, myself.
Her main point is to recognize the value that things have, and be more intentional with the things you keep in your home. It’s not about putting a number limit to the amount of items you have. So I think you are aligned with the Konmari method!
Several years ago I read a book about decluttering, and threw away so many things that I didn’t use, and I felt unburdened after that. Like I could go to the future without baggage and my choices were unlimited. I know it’s a little kooky. 🙂 But it did change my life for the better.
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Thanks, Barron. I knew I’d get some helpful info from you. I think I should have read more, but I guess something touched a nerve, but it obviously wasn’t HER.
Thank you! I love my special treasures, but sometimes I feel alone in that. Wonderful photos!
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Thank you, my friend. You have contributed many of my favorite objects!
I’ve moved into two fully stocked hoarder houses in my lifetime. They could both be their own blogs. I found and threw out a bunch of junk, but I also found and kept some treasures. I collect things that are “me.” I am not parting with anything except stuff in the trash boxes that somehow got moved too instead of thrown out. All of my figurines and action figures are staying. They all have a meaning. I appreciate people who enjoy minimalist lifestyles, but I am not one. I want 2 sofas, a couch, a big ottoman, 2 dining tables and 10 chairs, a small round glass top table, and other small tables and surfaces around me. Everything I have represents a point in my life. A few things remind me of where I am, and some that remind me of how I got here. There are even a couple of objects that remind me to not go back to certain areas of life. I am very complete with the idea of keeping your house the way that makes you happy as long as you can walk around in it freely.
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