A few years ago when Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, came out, my very organized, neat, young neighbor decided it was a book I needed to own. I read it at the time, and I was bemused by the author’s dedication to tidying up.
Because I’d read the book, I was curious about the Netflix series featuring Marie Condo. Watching her in action, I got a far better understanding of the meaning she places in the act of sorting one’s belongings. I went back and reread the book. With a picture in my mind of both Kondo and her work, I processed the book much differently the second time. Kondo says that her method is partly inspired by the Shinto religion. Cleaning and organizing things properly can be a spiritual practice in Shintoism. All things have a spirit that must be honored.
The producers of goods in our consumer culture preach “more is better.” The idea that each and every belonging should be touched, reflected upon, and either thanked or relinquished is both counter-cultural and daunting. We are surrounded by so much. Accumulation is largely unplanned and often happens unconsciously. I loved the possibility of only having things around me that are useful and/or give me joy. Memories don’t have to reside in things that I never even look at anymore. There are many ways to hold life dear. Following her method precisely is something I’ll never accomplish, but, as I go through my belongings in preparation for a move to a one-floor cottage in a retirement village, her ideas give a different meaning to what might have been a far more difficult task. With mindfulness, I can try to open myself to new ways to part with things gratefully, enjoy all that I have, and grow in the process. If I find a bit of the joy that Marie Kondo finds in tidying up, I will be thankful.