Marie Kondo is a 33-year-old Japanese organization consultant. She gets paid to tell people how to organize their homes and their lives. I think if we’re honest, we’ve all needed an “organization consultant” in our lives at some point. Life is busy, complicated and messy at the very same times that it is beautiful and profound. Kondo’s method of decluttering started with a little book called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying—The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” It was published in the U.S. two years ago and is now an international phenomenon.
People all over the world are “kondo-ing” their homes. Kondo’s principal is simple enough—if an item doesn’t spark joy, get rid of it. The technique requires that a person touch every item and ask, “Does this spark joy?” It the answer is yes, you display or store the item properly. If the answer is no, you get rid of it. Simple.
Well, it’s simple enough for items like clothing, Tupperware, cords, or papers, but Marie doesn’t stop there. I can do that. I throw out random cords, papers, even household appliances when I am tired of them. She hits right to the core of everything southern women hold dear—books, letters, dishes and sentimental items. This is where my initial interest in Kondo became nonexistent.
I don’t know of anyone who wants a cluttered house and I am definitely impressed by the strides some of my Facebook friends have made just since starting their “Kondo New Year” on Jan. 1. I’m not going to do it. If I did, my house would be bare because it is filled with books, letters, dishes and sentimental items. When we purchased my grandparents’ home two years ago, I suddenly had two households of belongings to sort through before we moved in. I gave away a lot of things. I made multiple trips to thrift stores. By the time we moved in, I had reconciled my things with my grandmother’s things and I loved what was left. Kondo would vehemently disagree.
Kondo’s principal on items of sentimental value it this: “We live in the present. No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now is more important.” Most of the women I know would disagree. We like looking back at cards and letters that we have received through the years. It’s not something that anyone does regularly, but there’s comfort and nostalgia in it. Those things “spark joy” for me and for others. Kondo would consider the handwritten recipes of my grandmothers as clutter and I would respectfully disagree.
Another area where Kondo and I would not see eye to eye is dishes. I love them. Changing out the plates in my China hutch sparks joy! Yes, the multiple sets of dishes that I own, most of them sentimental in some way, do take up a large amount of storage space, but I have the room to store them. Therefore, they are not in the way. Kondo’s method flies in the face of the Southern tradition of using the “good plates” for the preacher or other important company. I’m fairly certain that the concept “wedding China” would be lost on Kondo and she would not encourage any new bride to register for such frivolous items. I say, if it makes you happy, register for the dishes. Use them. Display them!
I’ll respect Marie Kondo, but I’ll revere my dishes!
Fellow booklovers, the KonMarie method encourages you to get rid of unread books that are collecting dust and only keep books that “spark joy”. Kondo says that she owns only 30 books. That’s okay for her, but most bibliofiles scoff at the slight number. My recommendation is to keep your home library neat. Stacks of unused books become clutter. No one wants that, but I don’t know anyone who willingly throws out books either!
I think the bottom line is this-- your home should be a safe, clean place of retreat. Fill it with the things you love, but not to the point that you are overwhelmed or overtaken by them. Organize your sentimental treasures and put them on display. Use them in your décor rather than stuffing them in a closet.
For those who Kondo—Kondo on! I figure that Marie Kondo is going to be okay if I don’t participate in her challenge. She’s currently worth an estimated eight million dollars. I think she will be fine if I don’t buy her books or watch her show. My home with all of its dishes, books, photographs and sentimental items will remain as it is—happy, sweet and original.
Weekly columnist. Feature Writer.