I recently watched a few episodes of the new Netflix show, “Tidying Up, with Marie Kondo.”
The show is based on the popular best-seller by the same said Japanese declutttering expert, who goes into people’s homes and helps them “find joy” with the objects within. The KonMari method, as it’s called, tackles clutter one object at a time, instead of the traditional, “let’s just clean out this one closet” way we Americans generally handle situations when stuff and things start to take over our lives.
My last post was about organizing some of the overwhelming amount of crap in my basement storage rooms. When her book came out, I thought, what a bunch of hooey. Only keep objects that bring you joy? Yet another marketing trick to sell books. But then I watched the show and saw the tiny tornado of a woman in action. What appeals to me is her spiritual connection with space and objects. Her first move when she enters the seemingly bewildered person’s home is to kneel, bow and meditate for a few minutes to connect to the home and also, pay tribute to it and its overflowing contents in a rather respectful way.
Because, let’s be honest. Most of us are ashamed of the sheer amount of shit we accumulate, which is why our closets and drawers are stuffed but kept under wraps. Marie seems to actually love stumbling upon a junk drawer, and exclaims for the camera, “I love mess!” in her limited English.
What first drew me to the show was an episode about a widow my age, who wanted to tackle her husband’s clothes closet. It was very close to home for me of course, but I was also searching for a litmus test of how long she had waited to do so since her spouse had died. As the episode evolved, she revealed it had been nine months.
Nine months! I almost exclaimed out loud to the TV, that’s all?
I was still practically crawling around on the floor at nine months. It just goes to support the theory that everyone handles grief in their own timeline. I should not castigate myself for waiting more than two years to do the same thing, right?
So feeling inspired (and admittedly still a bit ashamed of myself ) I took all of my closet clothes and tossed them onto our king-sized bed. In the KonMari method, you hold each garment and if it does not give you joy (whatever) thank it and toss it into a pile to discard. But after doing this, where to store the summer clothes I was keeping? I went over to husband’s closet and opened it up. Not full by any means, since James was no clothes horse. But a faint waft of his smell was still present. Struggling mightily, I began to pull out his clothes – his one suit, two dress shirts, ties, jeans and many, many Carhartt collared short-sleeved sport shirts in various faded hues of the rainbow.
At that moment, Pam called. After asking and finding out what I was doing, her comment was, “Boy, you sure know how to have a good time.” True dat. It was also a reminder that these painful steps I take are self-imposed. No one is telling me when to do anything any more. I set these deadlines and for good or bad, try to keep moving forward incrementally.
“Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.” Leonard Koren
I’m sure a graduate of the Marie Kondo school of organization would have already ripped the entire band aid of my cluttered life off by now. But there is also the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, which accepts the imperfection of all things in life.
So I will continue my own imperfect journey of self-discovery and simplification my way, one small painful tug at a time.