Spring Cleaning

Have you read this little book, the life-changing magic of tidying up?  A year ago, my book club was charged with reading this title, and I just. couldn’t. make. myself. read it.  No copies were available at the library, and, knowing a little about its premise of eliminating clutter, I felt it defeated the purpose of the book to purchase a copy and then have to “declutter” it later.  So I passed on it, and just asked a lot of questions of the girls who had read it to try to get the gist of it.  (Basically, take everything out from everywhere, one category at a time, throw anything out that doesn’t “spark joy” when you hold it in your hands, and put your measly little pile back, but in a very specific order and location and using a specific method, especially when it comes to clothes.)  Having moved three years earlier, I had done this with a vengeance.  I knew the rush of clearing out the old to make way for the new.  I didn’t think I needed this lesson.

Flash forward a year.  I’m at the library, I’ve just completed a Whole30 (this will be relevant, I promise), and nothing can be found from my to-read list on the card catalog until I get to this little gem:


I search it out on the stacks and not only find it, but its companion tome, Spark Joy.  I believe in the wisdom of impeccable timing, and this felt like a sign that NOW was the right time for this book to come into my life.  “Goodie,” I think, “What do I have to lose?”

Two weeks later, I’ve read all about the KonMari Method, and let me tell you what I had to lose:

countless nights’ sleep,

hours daydreaming of this colossal purge I was going to embark on (clothes, books, papers, in that order, like a good girl),

and six sick days from the sheer exhaustion I contracted.

Exhaustion, not from actually doing the exercise, just from the thought of it!

So now I’m left wondering, is this woman insane or genius?  And I don’t say that lightly.  You might think that there are ways to adopt the “KonMari Method Lite” version.  You would be mistaken.  There are no nuances to her method.  You are either all in or you are wrong.

In some ways, there is a lot of appeal to this way of thinking.  In that, you don’t have to THINK about any of it.  You just have to feel.  And I mean, literally feel every item you own, and then feel how it makes you feel.  Then toss or put away.  Simple, right? This type of simple yes/no either/or keep/discard philosophy is appealing in a complex, complicated world that changes by the hour and that demands 4,863,242 decisions every. single. day.  Not to mention needing the flexibility to change your mind when a decision didn’t work out as planned.

Throwing away half your wardrobe seems simple in comparison.  Except it’s not.  The holiday dress that doesn’t “spark joy” on an eighty degree spring day will need to be replaced in seven months when it’s time to go to the office Christmas party.  If her method is supposed to be a means to curb consumerism, throwing out things that could come in handy later seems counterintuitive, not to mention wasteful.  Or maybe I’m missing the point.

Forgive me for being a little cranky.  Like I said, I just completed a Whole30, and I’m not quite sure what makes sense in my life anymore.  Everything you’ve read about Whole30 is true.  And false.  You really have to try it for yourself before you pass judgment on it.  I found an enormous benefit in trying it, and I’m also flailing in a post-Whole30 world where I can’t make a simple decision about what to eat.  Right now it is 4:00pm and I have had two cups of coffee with milk and sweetener (non-compliant) and several handfuls of blueberries (technically compliant, but a bowl of fruit does not a meal make).  But, I digress.  I think the point I am trying to make is that following a program, a movement, even a mentor’s or author’s plan for your life is like trying to hit the Easy Button on this game.  Eliminating even one of those 4, 863,242 decisions that we make every day diminishes our experience of this world.

I don’t believe you can declutter your life once and never have to do it again.  We are growing, changing human beings whose needs aren’t the same from year to year.  Why reinvent the wheel every time your pleasures come back around to something you threw away?  Our lives, while filled with stuff, are not made of stuff.  And I feel sorry for the people for whom that is true.  Our lives are experiences meant to be lived, not possessions to be managed.

While meditating this morning, I heard a voice as clear as day.  “You’re missing the adventure.”  By fighting what is, by trying to put a yoke on this life, I’m missing the joy and the heartbreak.  We are miracles in ecstatic motion.  We don’t follow a program and our lives aren’t predictable, and by tuning out of life, we hear only one note, not the entire symphony.

(That’s a lot of simile right there.  Maybe I should KonMari Method that paragraph?)

I’m a hypocrite though.  While I committed to Whole30 and therefore truly experienced what it meant to me, I haven’t done the same with the KonMari Method.  But I already feel like I’ve lost so much precious time this spring.  Time I could have spent writing, gardening, connecting with friends and family.  I don’t want to miss another minute.

I used to be that Tiger-Mother-KonMari-Method-always-trying-to-be-in-control wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt, friend.  I didn’t like myself then, and this book pushed me dangerously close to that unhealthy territory.  Or maybe, by not actually doing The Method, I have missed the lesson entirely and I am my own worst nightmare- someone with an opinion on something that they have yet to try themselves.

Forgive me.

I blame Trump.

Can we KonMari Method him and his entire staff?  Now that’s a purge I can get behind 100%.

5 thoughts on “Spring Cleaning”

  1. Although I also haven’t read the book, I appreciate your sentiments about it, and would even back you on your sensibility toward it. Any all or nothing mentality will always have its flaws. You, my dear, are both honest and wise, and I truly admire how you just tell it like it is. My favourite line: “Our lives are experiences meant to be lived, not possessions to be managed.”
    Now I need to pick your brain about Whole30…

  2. I love this. I felt the same way about the “tidying up” book. I’m totally Type A but I’m also a creature of comfort. I don’t want to sterilize my house but I do want less clutter- so I work to find a balance- I.e. I’ve learned to use my attic. I store crap and rotate it in and out as my heart desires. The girls rediscover their old toys every other month and it’s like Christmas all over again. Thanks for sharing this

  3. Well, maybe ask someone else about Whole30. I completed mine in March and just realized this evening that rice is on the “no” list. I ate rice almost every day. Managed to avoid metabasulfites and carrageenan, but RICE tripped me up! I still got a lot of benefit from it that continues to this day, so I’ll call it a win! Thanks for your comment. ❤️

  4. That’s a great idea, Lauren. At 43, I’m just too tired. Seems easier to donate everything and learn to live without it. As a human being on an ever-changing planet, I reserve the right to completely contradict every word of my post in the near future! The hazard of writing things down…

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