Because nine Facebook pages, a weekly blog, and writing for both Vocal and Medium aren’t enough non-work-related typing for me, I also write book reviews.
You’ve likely heard of the book that was the subject of one of my first reviews: the life-changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo. A small sweet-looking book, I thought it would be an easy read and a quick review.
I was almost right.
The book can be read in one sitting, and I enjoyed writing the review. The problem was, I kept going back to re-read parts of it. Then I started acting on what I was reading.
What a disaster.
This was supposed to be a review, not a life-skills learning opportunity! Marie Kondo truly believes and teaches that a person only needs to tidy their space once. To do it only once means following her process (which is really very simple.) If a person doesn’t follow her process she says they will work on it forever and not see lasting improvement in their standard of living.
EVERY ITEM a person owns must be picked up and considered in light of a simple question.
Does it bring joy?
If so, it stays, and must have a permanent place; one that it will always be placed when not in use.
If not- out it goes. Every. Item. She estimates it will take the average person 6 months.
I can only speculate that I will not be the average person. This is going to take some time to complete.
The small part that I have accomplished, though, lets me know I am on the right track. I keep going back to one section in the book, it’s a section that discusses why people keep too much STUFF that doesn’t bring joy.
She says it’s for two reasons:
- Clinging to the past
- Fear of the future
Some people have one or the other as their reason, some people have both.
Now, there’s no doubt that I love me my stuff.
Give me more than 5 minutes in any place and I start to nest. What rang true for me, though, is that weight is also stuff.
WEIGHT IS ALSO STUFF.
- It is stuff that does not bring me joy.
- It is stuff that does not bring me joy and that I have not yet thrown away.
- It is stuff that does not bring me joy and that I have been tidying up for 40 years.
- It is stuff that does not bring me joy that I have been working on for 40 years and have not seen a lasting improvement.
So, which is it?
Clinging to the past or fear of the future- or both? Well, fat is certainly a way of clinging to the past. The past is actually not only clung to by a person- it clings ON a person. Every mouthful can easily be relived by looking into a mirror.
Fear of the future?
My grandparents had a LOT of stuff.
As the years went by the STUFF grew and grew, boxes piled on boxes, half-used bottles with dregs of whatever were tucked carefully away: They might NEED it someday.
- If they needed it, well, if they saved it there it would be.
- If they threw it away they might not be able to get it again.
To discard it would be a waste.
I’m not sure what would have happened if someone had asked them if the things they kept brought them joy.
Joy wasn’t the point.
Joy wasn’t the motivation.
Joy wasn’t what they thought about.
Joy wasn’t how they made their decisions.
At a basic level, fear of not having what they needed in the future drove their actions. Clinging to the things that once met their needs was safe.
It must be the same thing for me.
I need to change the reasons I keep the things that do not bring me joy. Once that meant donating nine bags of towels, sheets, blankets, and clothes to local shelters and drop-boxes in one emphatic moment to put the THINGS I’s accumulated to new use.
Those things once brought me joy but they had fulfilled their purpose. No more moving them from one drawer, from one bin, from one box to another. No more tidying. It was time to let them go.
Time to apply that to me and the weight that has been lost and found over and over. This year I have tidied some weight off.
But I haven’t examined it; I haven’t determined what brings me joy. I am convinced that must change.
I’ll repeat this “self-tidying” over and over if I act out of fear and not joy.
This January I am grateful for the changes made over the past twelve months. I’m also grateful that I have twelve brand new months right around the bend.
Bring on the joy.
I've written about a lifelong preoccupation with food before. You may enjoy these Vocal stories:
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