The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
On must read lists everywhere, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up has landed itself onto aesthetically pleasing Instagram feeds and into well-organized handbags everywhere. The book has received countless glowing reviews and a lot of praise, leading to a slew of recent converts faithfully following the KonMari Method. In the middle of my move to San Francisco, I was a bit overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff I owned and was looking for a way to downsize before lugging everything away in a Uhaul. I was hoping this book would give me some tricks for getting rid of what I didn't need and inspire me to actually start packing my things away in cardboard boxes.
Upon finishing, my feelings are mixed. Helpful organization tips are littered throughout the book, but its ultimate message is not one that I can comfortably stand behind. Marie's process of identifying and keeping only items that "spark joy" is supposed to help you achieve your ideal lifestyle. She talks about the bliss and euphoria you're supposed to feel when you're surrounded only by things you love. It's a dangerous mentality to promote. Our belongings shouldn't be a measure of how perfect our life is, much less define who we are and who we wish to become. The time, energy, and painstaking attention she focuses on her belongings is exhaustive. It feels as if she spends more time worshiping her things than spending time with people around her. It's a sad realization to not remember Marie talking about a single friend throughout the entire book.
The second half of the book goes into great detail about the respect and courtesy you should have for your things, saying "thank you for your service" to your purse, shoes, and especially anything you wish to discard. She asks that you, "thank your clothes for protecting your body. Thank your accessories for making you beautiful. Express your appreciation for every item that supported you during the day." Marie treats inanimate objects as living, breathing, and feeling. This attitude is absolutely crazy for lack of a euphemism. She feels bad for socks balled up, "as they can't get their much deserved rest that way" and cried at the sight of soap scum on her shampoo bottle. I don't mean to be overly critical, but this women's actions closely resemble traits of Obsessive Compulsion Disorder. The following passages elicited a gaping open mouth and incredulous laughs as I read:
"You must empty your hand bag every day. Being packed up all the time, even when not in use, must feel something like going to bed with a full stomach."
"When you get a new phone, it is kind to text your old one with a message of thanks for its service."
"Personally, I recommend hanging sponges outside, such as on the verdana."
I want my life to be shaped and enriched by relationships, not by whether or not my sock drawer is tidy. I prefer to not talk to my belongings and instead chat with my friends. This book made me sad for the author and made me appreciate the organized chaos that is my home.