Updated: Jul 3, 2019
I first heard of Marie Kondo on "Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life." In the episode Emily Gilmore had lost her husband, and using Marie's method, she was getting rid of everything in her house that didn't bring her joy. As she was deeply grieving, nothing brought her joy, so she was getting rid of EVERYTHING.
For the first two weeks of January I watched Marie's Netflix series "Tidying Up" explode on every social media outlet I have, and began composing a blog in my head about why her method would never work for me because I'm not a minimalist. I like a lot of stuff! And it isn't individual items that bring me joy, but collections of items, curated, moved around, re-imagined and rearranged so that their forms and colors are made brand new by what they now sit next to. This is the joy of sewing and quilting for me, too. It's not the ONE THING. It's how each color and texture relates to the others around it.
But then I watched the special. Compulsively, as I do most things. It lives up to the hype. It turns out, Marie and I are totally on the same page. She's not about simply getting rid of and simplifying things, but arranging each kept thing in a way that even it's place in the drawer is beauty-bringing, joy-sparking loveliness. Even my t-shirt and sock drawers are beautiful now.
So my life was wrecked for 10 days. Because I had deadlines, y'all. I had meetings. I had family birthdays. But all I wanted to do was refold all my stuff! Put my books in rainbow order! And get rid of every shirt I still had because I felt guilty getting rid of it.
I read an article today about the spiritual Shinto roots of Marie's method. And though I don't believe, as she may, that books and socks and houseplants have a spirit, I believe that our connection to our stuff is deeply spiritual. That's why the show resonates: because it reveals that the human spirit, made to be creative and free, is so easily enslaved by the things that are supposed to serve us. Stuff is supposed to serve us. But it can become our master just like anything else can: food, alcohol, money, Netflix specials.
Marie reveals the way people's lives have been stunted by their addiction to their things, and how the stuff they can't get rid of is really about how they feel about their bodies, their family of origins, their marriage, their kids and their purpose in life. Jesus talked about this, how we tend to store things in barns (modern update: storage units) where moths destroy things, and that practice prevents us from storing up good deeds in heaven that will matter forever.
So it's not weird -- it's NOT -- that I emptied my 11 year old's sock drawer and wept over all the ways I've failed to establish healthy boundaries when I saw how many socks I have bought my girl who can't manage to properly put away socks -- or anything else. How because I was afraid to oppress her, I haven't properly shepherded her is some basic life disciplines because I was rebelling against ways I felt enslaved by other people's perfectionistic expectations of me. Seriously, I had to call my Codependents Anonymous sponsor before I could finish.
So thanks, Marie, for wrecking my life and forcing me to remake it. Not only can I find my pants and see all the books I own that I have left to read, I feel motivated to rearrange some things that really matter.