I have just finished reading Marie Kondo’s bestselling ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying’. It is a book with a buzz. The in thing (in the world of tidying). The sort of book you strongly believe arrived just when you needed it. Just as you were knocking objects off table edges, tiny flower pots for example… My eyes have been deviously difficult this year and so I fall into this category of believing the Kon Mari method has arrived in the nick of time.
The essence of the book is this: pick up an object. Ask the question – ‘does this spark joy?’ If the answer is yes, keep it. If the answer is no, or non-commital, sayonara it. And then tear your hair out when you discover just how complicated your non-committal responses can be. Add into this equation being a writer, loving books, and sometimes not necessarily loving a book, but needing it. At some future date. When your future self will remember you once had that book and you GAVE IT AWAY.
And then there’s all the ghastly paperwork that must be dealt with… do you have a paperwork situation?
I think I have learnt a certain measure of detachment from Marie Kondo, which is another essential teaching of her book. It is a humiliation to be the possessor of more things than you need when garbage dumps and slum heaps grow. And upon their festering mounds, children. Making a scavenger’s living. Kondo never says this explicitly, but it is part of the secret of joy. Things can bring us temporary joy, perhaps even save our lives – and therefore things must also be tended to, thanked, seen and given due credit. When objects, even books, pile up (tsundoku) we commit the crime of ignoring them, even destroying them. Japanese homes are built differently to English homes: space and functionality are entwined in a much more visceral way. Storage is of utmost importance. And yet, Marie Kondo’s book has become an international bestseller. I hope I am able to implement these tidying skills into my life – but as for my books? That’s a tough racquet.