Marie Kondo clean out sparks more confusion than joy

Marie Kondo

I am Marie Kondoing my life, says Suzanne Harrington. Not because I’m a neat freak with time on my hands, but because the house, despite being made of elastic, is bursting. Too many people, not enough space. 

Will folding my bras make the place bigger? Can I Marie Kondo the dog? What about the teenage bedrooms, the floors of which have not been seen since 2014, a perfect setting for those documentaries about hoarders who have to be dug out with JCBs under an avalanche of empty pizza boxes and old socks? Good luck with that one, Marie Kondo.

The Japanese organising consultant says I need to get all shinto on everything I am deciding to keep or discard. That I have to hold each item “firmly in both hands as if communing with it”.

That if it does her trademark “spark joy” thing, I should “feel a little thrill.” If I am sparked with joy, the item stays. If not, I say arigatoto to it for its service, and place it on the chucking out pile.

I practice on the dog, holding her firmly by the head, staring into her eyes. She looks a bit worried, before covering my face in reassuring licks.

The cells in my body rise quickly, telling me to get the dog off of me, as in her enthusiasm she has knocked me over and is now standing above me, tail wagging, sparks of joy flying off her like some cosmic canine welder. She can stay.

I move to the inanimates. Marie says that while cleaning is the act of confronting nature (dirt accumulates naturally, which is why in our house we all have such cast iron immune systems – our cleaner is up a mountain in India all winter and the dirt has moved in, layering itself comfortably on everything), while tidying is the act of confronting myself, as I am the one who creates the clutter. Thanks, Marie. I am standing knee deep in my own clothing, waiting for sparks of joy.

Socks don’t spark joy, but my feet want them. Do I really need to hold every old t-shirt, every charity shop treasure, every misguided sale purchase, ever tatty favourite, in both hands and commune with it? I’d be here for weeks.

I stuff everything back into the cupboard and move to komono. The dreaded miscellany, with which my house is filled; all the crap from my travels, my kids, my life. Everything is sentimental. Everything sparks joy. I am nearly electrocuting myself.

Marie says that you should start with clothes, then move to books, papers, miscellany, until there is only sentimental items left. I have to reread this a few times.

She seems to be saying that books are not sentimental. There is a chapter “for those who think they can’t part with books.” That I should only keep 30 or so. Thirty? That’s just the pile next to the bath.

Is she serious?

She says that once read, we have internalised the book, and need to make room for new information. I don’t know about you, but I don’t read for information, unless it’s a bus time table or the Ikea catalogue.

I’m starting to go off Marie Kondo. The dog likes her though.

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