I am in love with this book. I am now a card carrying member of the cult of KonMari and I am not afraid to shout it out to the rooftops. I am also not afraid to say that The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up is not without its faults. But I do feel that a lot of the reviewers who have written Marie Kondo and her work off as “bat shit crazy” or the equivalent are missing out on what the book truly has to offer. Which is less about talking to your stuff and much more about respecting how you treat the objects in your life and moving away from an over reliance on stuff.
It is about letting go of what you don’t want and instead surrounding yourself with objects that give you joy. If it does not make you happy it has got to go. This strikes fear and terror into the hearts of our stuff obsessed society. And so it is easy to write the book off as a crazy lady who wants you to talk to plants and purses. That way you do not need to confront how much you have of which you do not truly want.
It is easy to get caught up on the details rather than the message. It is true that Marie Kondo is obsessed. Yet I find it wonderful that she was able to turn her personality quirk for the love of neatness into a full fledged business and now a world wide best seller. But even beyond that, the parts of the book where she writes about talking to her belongings and thanking them for jobs well done is less about getting to write her off as a nutter because she does this, and more about taking the reasoning behind it. So, am I about to thank my clothes at the end of the day for a job well done? No. But did she make me think about how I treat my objects as things with permanence and worthy of putting care and effort into? Yes. And if they are not worthy of putting the effort of care into them, why do I have these things anyway?
Kondo does not say that everyone should read her book and therefore will live a happy life. In fact she says you can have a total mess of a house and be happy. Her only question then is why you would buy her book if you are in that situation. So she assumes if you are interested in her book it is because you want a neater and more tidier environment. A fair enough assumption I feel. (And she also encourages you to use her method on her book if it fails to spark joy, so she is not a hypocrite!).
And if you feel the need to tidy your house and get rid of clutter she feels she can also help you change your life in the process. Not because you are tidying all the time. She argues very much against this.
If you are tidying all the time you have done something wrong. Rather you should take her method, really and truly tidy your house, and be done with it. Afterwards you will not have to go back as instead of a method of storing things away, her way is more of a philosophy of why to keep things or get rid of them. This method is not about storing things you might like to keep or might have need for. In this day and age if you truly need it you can buy it when you need it. And 99% of the time we never need it. We just fear we might. Or we keep it from the guilt of hurting someone else who may have given us the item. Or worse, because we bought it and never wore/used it. And this is one place where I agreed with her talking to your belongings. I was finally able to throw away clothes that I bought on sale and then never wore but could never part with because I paid the money for it. Thank it for the thrill of the purchase and for teaching you about the dangers of buying things because they are on sale. Move on!
Instead, it is this conscious approach to your surroundings that make the positive impact on your life. You are no longer a sleep walker numbed by the evidence of all of your stuff. You have consciously built a home of things that bring you joy. The rest is discarded.
And as someone who spent the weekend on clothing alone, if you decide to undertake this task, it is not something done in a couple of hours. This takes weeks to months. And I think that is fine. People who promise overnight miracles are full of bullshit. And it does require you to really examine your feelings towards your surroundings. And you may find in your purging of your things that your life is not aligned to what you truly want. And that requires change. So ignoring it and calling her nuts is probably easier.
And maybe you are happy and just want a home that is more clutter free and in tune with who you are. Which is what I wanted when I decided to try the book out. With a second baby coming and the plan to spend 2 months this summer on a boat, I thought a book about decluttering would be right up my alley. What I found was a philosophy on what I should keep (and in the future buy!) that allowed me to part with the objects of my past that belong there and a wake up call to how I treat my objects and what I surround myself with.
Even if I won’t be thanking my objects for a job well done, I will be thanking Marie Kondo for helping me part with my stuff guilt free and downsize even further. So that what I have is what I love. And when you are surrounded by what you love you can not help but have those steps taken towards true happiness.