Who knew you could spark joy in your life by simply cleaning your underwear drawer? Marie Kondo knew, that’s who. Her book, The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up, was a worldwide phenomenon. Published in over 30 countries, with over 4 million copies sold, people everywhere were scrambling to find happiness through organization. Decluttering replaced antidepressants and hordes of people everywhere were smiling like crazy clowns because their closets were clean.
I’m a Virgo. My mind was born compartmentalized. Something as simple as clean sheets on a bed can turn my skies from gray to blue. So when I heard about this book…I bit. I watched the videos, I attended a lecture with Marie herself and decided that I, too, would be a soldier in the war on stuff.
We live in a world of clutter. Physically, mentally and emotionally. Mass consumption is at an all-time high. We have phones that ding throughout the day warning us of texts and phone calls and emails that are screaming for our attention. The three bedroom ranch home of the 1950s, with its standard-sized closets, has made way for the mini-mansion and walk-in-closet world of the new millennium. Where a single rack of clothes could take us through winter, summer, spring and fall – we now need entire rooms devoted to our wardrobes.
So it’s no wonder that – with all of this stimulation – our minds have splintered into a thousand pieces. I like to call it Attention Deficit Disorganization. We need help. And Marie Kondo is here to give it to us.
My first stab at “The KonMari Method” (Marie Kondo’s trademarked method for bringing on the happy) was to reorganize my underwear drawer. I thought I’d start small. I emptied out my tiny drawer that contained 52 pairs of underwear. It was like a clown car. They just kept pouring out. Underwear I never even knew I owned was buried in the back of the drawer. So I, one-by-one, began doing what Marie consults: touching it, asking the question, “Does this spark joy for me?” and – based on the answer – either keep it or discard it. In about four hours, I halved my stock, threw everything in the washing machine and, when it was all clean and dry, incorporated the folding technique that Kondo teaches (picture Origami with a prayer). I then blessed each piece as I lovingly and painstakingly placed them back in the drawer. And then I waited.
I have to say – it did make a difference. For about two days. I was so taken by my joy-filled undie drawer that I took pictures of it. I couldn’t wait to go back into my drawer the next day to find the perfect happy-making piece of clothing that would change my life. It made me want to clean everything in my house. It made me want to purge my closets and garage and kitchen cabinets. It made me want to be a consultant and bring this joy into everyone’s home!
But that joy soon turned into stress. I was stressed thinking about how I didn’t have time to clean my bathroom cabinets. And my closets. And the bookshelves – oh the bookshelves! Because, well, you know, “Life.” That thing that seems to get in the way of all of our best intentions. Sure, if I didn’t have a job or friends or dogs or obligations I could easily dump my house on the floor and start all over again, sparking joy with each fork and bottle of nail polish and old ponytail scrunchie I unearthed and then threw away (BTW, I’ve had a pixie for five years – my hair hasn’t seen a ponytail in a long time. Note to self: Discard ponytail scrunchies).
If I could take a two-month vacation from my job (do you think they’d go for a “disorganization disability” claim?) I could possibly master this technique and be happy every day of my life. But that’s not going to happen. So I’ve returned to the world that existed before Marie Kondo existed in it. I now leisurely wake up on a Saturday, look around my house and say, “Eh, maybe I’ll get through that mail pile today. Or maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll watch a movie instead. Yeah. I vote for a movie.”
I’ll tidy up tomorrow. Joy can wait.
This article was originally printed in Fine Living Lancaster Magazine.