Wednesday, August 2, 2017

"The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up," by Marie Kondo

You have probably heard of the worldwide bestselling little hardback book by the Japanese writer, Marie Kondo. It is titled “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” (Ten Speed Press), and is translated from Japanese into English by Cathy Hirano. I am an easy mark for books on organizing. Although I seldom follow their advice, I enjoy reading them, or at minimum, feel virtuous just having them on my bookshelves. This one is actually fun to read, and I have been reading little chunks of it for about a year; I finally finished it a few days ago. Meanwhile, a few months ago I went with my daughter -- also a fan -- to hear Marie Kondo speak, and we both enjoyed the event thoroughly. Kondo is a bit quirky, charming and very charismatic, and even the fact that her talk was translated from Japanese into English as she went along did not slow down or mar the audience’s evident great appreciation for and enjoyment of her speech, accompanied by a few – but only a few – props and power point slides. She’s obviously a star, with enthusiastic fans. Her main point can be boiled down to this: Put all your belongings (according to categories) out, and lift and touch each one to determine if it “sparks joy.” If not, get rid of it. Meanwhile, treat your possessions with respect, even talking to them and thanking them for what they do for you. If you do this, not only will your house be clearer and more peaceful, but so will your life. There are many specifics, including lists, and many examples from her work with hundreds of clients in Japan and elsewhere (she has a three-month waiting list). Her method is called the KonMari Method. I am quite enchanted with all this, but I haven’t yet put any of it into practice. My daughter, on the other hand, has been working her way through the categories, and has gotten rid of (given away, recycled, thrown away) large quantities of possessions. (She still has plenty left!) It may be that Kondo is not telling us anything very different from what dozens of other organization specialists have, but she has her own perspective and her own method, enhanced by her charming personality that comes across clearly in her little book. Who knows, one of these days maybe I will actually try her method!

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