Yet another book on how to de-clutter your life and home. I like these kinds of books. When I left the Good Ol’ US of A, I had sold everything I owned except a few kitchen articles for the RV, and some clothes, and a couple of other items that fit into the camper. Then off to Canada, then southward, following the sun, to …. as the folks in the southern states put it … to Old Mexico (as opposed to New Mexico.)
My first rental here in Sunny Mexico was a very small two bedroom condo. Furnished, except for a bed, so bought a bed, oh yeah, and a very old microwave. Remember those older model microwaves? They were almost as big as the bed. After the laundry service abruptly closed for four days with every piece of clothing that wasn’t on my back, it was clear I needed my own washing machine. Then, after about 8 months in the condo, I saw a three bedroom house I liked, so carted my bed and microwave there, but needed to buy living room furniture, and a table to eat on, and a refrigerator.
By the time I moved out of my fifth rental (and second city), I gave away two pickup trucks full of stuff, mostly to my cleaning gal. How did this happen? Where did it all come from? I brought almost nothing into the country, and in about 9 years had enough to fill a four bedroom house. (And YES, I needed a four bedroom house. My computer needed it’s own bedroom, and so did my sewing machine. So there.)
We humans are accumulators, amassors, dare I say it? hoarders. The tendency, nay, drive, to compile, stockpile, conglomerate, is innate. It probably goes back to our Neolithic ancestors, when the wife wanted to keep a pretty rock for decor, and Nuug, her husband, said, what’s it good for? What are you gonna do with that thing? or when she said she needed another fur skin garment, and Nuug said, what for? You got a fur skin garment, and she said yes but that one is brown. I want a black one, that the spark to make sure we were never out of pretty rocks or enough clothes was born.
But enough about me and the Clan of the Cave Bear. What about this book? Yeah, what about it? This Japanese chick has spawned a whole industry out of folding clothes and throwing
crap unneeded items out. It’s all about paring down to what each individual feels is sufficient for themselves. I remember the heyday of the minimalist movement, with idealistic young men bloggers vying to see who could get all of their possessions down to a minimum. The gold standard was some guy’s 51 items. Total. She-eesh, I got more than 51 items in my underwear drawer.
Well, Ms. Kondo isn’t about paring down your belongings until they all could fit in a shoebox. She is all about getting it down to a reasonable amount that you can stow out of sight! She is all about built-in shelves and drawers in your closets, and folding as many clothes as possible, rather than hanging stuff, because hanging stuff takes up a lot of space.
She is also all about a very specific folding system, that stands everything up on end in drawers, so you can see what you have. She is anti-piles — she says clothes and belongings have to rest, and how can you rest with a pile of weight on top of you. So there is quite a bit of the book devoted to folding. Well, you know what I think?
What I liked about her approach is her attitude to her possessions. She recommends thanking our things for their service when we are giving or throwing them away. She recommends thanking them for their service when we put them away in their places every day. It makes us more mindful of our relationship to our possessions, because if you have to much stuff to remember what you own so you can thank it, you got too much stuff.
Her criteria for keeping or tossing is to handle each item, and ask yourself, does it give me joy? If not, out it goes. Why be surrounded by things that do not give you joy. We have so much stuff because we don’t know how not to have it. She gives us a way to measure if it is valuable to us.
So back to me again. Yes, yes, it is all about me. Possessions-wise, I am as pared down as I care to be. Maybe a bit more could go, and it will, probably right before I move again, when I move again. But still, I did glean some nice tips, ideas, and attitudes from the book. Even though I am never in this lifetime going to fold my tee shirts so that I can stand them up, the vast majority of the stuff I have does spark joy. Good enough for me.