Finding the Good in Goodbye

If you’re going to Kondo, Kondo right, with plenty of trash bags and wine, natch.
If you’re going to Kondo, Kondo right, with plenty of trash bags and wine, natch.

“Take each item in one’s hand and ask: ‘Does this spark joy?’ If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.”

This is the philosophy espoused by Marie Kondo. Her brand of accessible minimalism has been swirling around so fervently in the last year that she’s inspired a healthy dose of both derision and devotees.

But, haters to the left. The results of my Kondo inspired tidying? Something like 10 bags of donations, two pieces of furniture left by the dumpster (I hope some needy person spirited them away), and at least six bags of trash.

The reason I say “at least” and “something like” is that, in my haste, I tossed the notebook in which I tallied these stats. Now that’s extreme Kondoing, amirite?

You don’t need to take a deep dive into Kondo’s world to see the magic benefits of tidying, though. I’ve summed up my experiences below for your benefit.

Tidying Tricks to Try

Enjoy going through your stuff. It’s not automatically fun being alone with our personal forgotten history, buyer’s remorse, and whatever else hides in our closets and drawers. Old notebooks and magazine collages were hard for me to toss. But I took pics, sent some to friends, and we had a good laugh. Then I breathed deeply and said bon voyage. I’m OK as I write this; you’ll be OK too. If there’s one thing Kondo is, it’s reassuring.

Her T-shirt folding method is also on point. I couldn’t make heads or tails if it in print, but after watching this video, I was in business.

Before and After: Aw yeah, look at dem shirts. I still have more than I’d like, but they’re tidier.
Before and After: Aw yeah, look at dem shirts. I still have more than I’d like, but they’re tidier.

Forget About It

There are a few Kondo recommendations I can’t endorse. Your mileage may vary.

I won’t be removing all the contents of my purse at the end of every day and placing them in a special cubby somewhere as Kondo does. Sparking joy? More like RAGE at having to put everything back before dashing out the door.

And I don’t care to slather items with appreciation for their hard work every day, as Kondo recommends. (Such whispered endearment directed at unresponsive things is reserved solely for my cat.)

Kondo says if you tidy right once, you’ll never have to tidy again. Sounds great, but that’s not how I operate. I anticipate consistently re-evaluating what among my possessions is bringing me joy, and sloughing off the detritus. Regular exfoliation is as good for your spirit as it is for your skin.

If it Sparks Joy, Keep It—If Not, Toss It

Who can argue with Kondo’s philosophy when it comes to a pair of threadbare socks or a jar of expired cinnamon in the back of a cabinet?

But, when it’s a person you love … what then?

We interrupt this regularly scheduled programming to talk about the fact that I went through a breakup recently. There was no joy in this, but it had to be done. As I finally got around to writing this post about my Kondo experience, I couldn’t help but notice the connection between letting go of things and letting go of people. Marie Kondo would likely say the clarity brought about by de-cluttering my living space gave me the clarity necessary to make such a big decision about my life. And who am I to argue?

Kondo says, “When we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.” And how.

There’s no good in goodbye, it’s true. It hurts to let go, but the good comes later, when you realize that the things you were holding onto weren’t really doing you any good at all.

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