What if clutter sparks joy?
I always find the best ideas about how to live the good life in the supermarket checkout line, nestled among tabloids with stories about alien abductions, Elvis sightings, celebrity scandals and miracle diets.
Last week, I stumbled upon two enlightening articles that highlighted a serious affliction I live with. Not psoriasis or constipation. Clutter.
On the shelf, right next to the Tic Tacs, were magazines that offered advice for people with my disability. Good Housekeeping had a piece about organizing your home and Prevention explained how to “Detox Your Life.”
You’re probably thinking “detox” only applies to substance abuse or gastrointestinal problems, but I’m here to tell you otherwise. You can also detox your bad habits, namely an addiction to clutterizing (I invented that word). This is something I’ve been trying to accomplish for several months or several years ... actually several decades.
While I don’t think I’ve reached the status of “hoarder,” my wife disagrees; however, there’s no denying I’m a journeyman “junk collector,” to use my mother’s favorite term to describe my father.
But a new day is dawning. I’m on the road to recovery after learning about an Asian art that can lead to serenity, enlightenment and liberation from material possessions. It’s not Aikido or Zazen or the Keto diet. It’s KonMari, otherwise known as the “art of discarding.”
I recently bought a book that will help me declutter. Actually, it’s not a “book” book. It’s an e-book, so it doesn’t take up any space on my filled-beyond-capacity bookshelves, nightstands, basement bins and car trunks. Since books are a major part of my clutter problem, I’m only allowed to purchase e-books per domestic decree, even though my Kindle is also running out of space.
“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo has sold more than 4 million copies. The author, who has a Netflix show, has become an international sensation at a young age by showing people how to throw stuff out, which is as addictive to her as collecting stuff is to me.
The so-called “Beyoncé of Organization” explains how to practice the KonMari Method, which involves piling your junk in the middle of the room, scrutinizing the items one by one, and asking yourself, “Does it spark joy?” If it doesn’t, you’re required by law to throw it out or take it to Goodwill. (Heck, I could have been a millionaire if I thought of this.) And if ALL your stuff gives you joy, you’re required to go to KonMari psychotherapy sessions, which involve attitude rehabilitation.
This craze has attracted more followers than body piercing, tattooing and the Trump impeachment proceedings, which worries me because there’s no telling what will happen to the U.S. economy when Americans stop buying and start discarding. The self-storage industry will collapse, along with a lot of major and minor retailers, and there could be another Great Recession.
When Marie Kondo was still in diapers, my father passed into the Great Hereafter, that place where you can’t take it with you. The first thing my sisters did — actually the second, after making funeral arrangements — was to order a dumpster, followed quickly by a second and a third. Everything went, including his sock and lock collections. (It’s easier to discard someone else’s things than your own.)
Clearly, I got the junk collecting gene from my father. At least that’s what my wife, daughters and sisters say. Nevertheless, I have a few defenders, including my 3-year-old grandson. When he walked into my study and found himself surrounded by books, antique typewriters, cribbage boards, vintage toys, binoculars, fly fishing equipment, and statues of the Madonna, he looked around in absolute wonderment. It was better than Disney World and Sesame Street combined.
When I pass into the Great Hereafter, the Philistines will surely send in the dumpsters. I just hope my grandson is there to stop them, and Marie Kondo isn’t there to stop him.
Joe Pisani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.