Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last (nearly) three years, you’ve heard of Marie Kondo and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. People across the world have lost their damn minds over this woman and her uber-rigid, take-no-prisoners plan to help all the common people organize their cluttered lives. According to Kondo, whether you keep an item in your home depends on the answer to one simple question:
Does it bring you joy?
Your instructions are to dismantle your home piece-by-piece, dividing and conquering, until you’ve swept your way across the entire house. Your closet, for instance, is supposed to be completely emptied. Absolutely everything comes out and gets piled in your bedroom floor or on top of the bed. Then, with each and every piece, you pick it up, thoughtfully examine it, and ask yourself, “Does this American Eagle sweatshirt from 1998 bring me joy?” And then you repeat with every pair of sweatpants (#alwaysjoyful), every sandal, every wallet, every single piece of clothing, until the joyful garments are returned to their safe haven within the confines of your (nearly-empty) closet, and the sorrowful troublemakers that bring you gloom are on their way out the door to clutter someone else’s home via Goodwill.
And then you repeat. Over and over and over. Does this food processor bring me joy? Does this movie bring me joy? Does this hammer bring me joy? Does this chair bring me joy? Does this pencil bring me joy?
Does it bring you joy?
What a bunch of pretentious bullshit this is.
What fresh hell is this?
I’m a sentimental sort of gal, one who could never be a minimalist by sheer virtue of the boxes and boxes of journals I keep in the garage, so maybe I simply don’t get it, but shit, people. Most of the things I have bring me joy. That’s why I have them. My office and closet will show you how joyful I am.
I recognize that I keep things longer than I should. I’m a pack rat of sentimental bullshit. I have a lot of seemingly meaningless things that, to me, bring back great memories that I might not remember otherwise. I have a bottle of Bath and Body Works grapefruit spray from 1997 because I wore it one summer in Dallas when I kissed this boy who was playing in a baseball tournament, and I keep it because I can smell it and remember that night, and how it was the first time that I felt like I wasn’t a little kid anymore. Most people would see this old-ass bottle of grapefruit (I don’t know why I picked grapefruit, it was the nineties) body splash and would immediately chuck it. Me, though? I see something different in it.
I come by it honestly. My mom is a sentimental soul as well, keeping recipe boxes, newspaper clippings, furniture, this and that, because they have meaning to her.She can look at the things she keeps and tell you why she’s kept them this long. She has a lot of her mother’s and grandmother’s things, and I get as much joy looking through those things as she does. In that sense, I suppose those things do bring us joy.
I think the point of the book, though, is based on an assumption that you keep a lot of shit that doesn’t bring you joy. I don’t. I have a lot of silly-looking crap that 90% of you would say I don’t need (or at least question how the hell it could give me joy), but I keep it because it means something. That tattered concert wristband from 2001, the Thunder Bird pin I was gifted (don’t ask) from 2008, the VIP menu I stole from Butter during a night with Mark Wahlburg in 2003 … it means something, and it’s proof and evidence that my life has done something worth remembering. I look at things and I remember, and I think that’s worth keeping.
So maybe I am doing the Marie Kondo, and I’m simply really, really joyful. I think, though, that she would probably roll her eyes, step into her grave, and tell me I’m doing it wrong.